Anybody watching the Final Four in Houston, even from afar, is sure to notice the chemistry between the Villanova Wildcats when they take the court. Their passes are mesmerizing, the way they play together is electric. Their coach, Jay Wright, is fine. But another moment of Final Four weekend that will stick with me even longer than that pass game was watching Ron Hunter, head coach of Georgia State, bow down to the legendary Tubby Smith. In case you're not a college hoops fan, yes, he's that kind of great. I was lucky enough to score some life and career advice from both coaches as they sat down with Bustle before the NCAA championship game in Houston, since, you know, coaching people to glory is what they're best at. They've also nailed the whole teamwork thing.
After a Champion is crowned and the lights go dim at Houston's NRG Stadium, and the highlight reels on SportsCenter switch over to baseball, what is it exactly that sets a star college basketball player ahead of the rest? That's the question I asked Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith, and his answer actually sounded like the best advice you could get going into a job interview.
"Successful people, especially athletes, they all are drive. They have a passion, plus they're very disciplined people. They have a vision, they have dreams, and we all do, but they have the ability to stick to it and have their eyes on the prize and not be distracted by other things."
Coach Smith also highlights star players' ability to ask questions, their willingness to be coached, and their ability to set goals. Listen up, kids.
"I've got to help you and stop your man and then somebody's got to help me. That's how life works."
For Georgia State coach Ron Hunter, the key to success isn't necessarily something you have control over, even if you know how to handle the ball like a champ.
"You can get your skill better, you can become a better student, but the 'it factor' is something I always look for. The charisma, the whole package, their work ethic, how they carry themselves, and always wanting to get better."
Always wondered how to set yourself ahead of the pack? Maybe it's something you're born with. "Most people who have that 'it factor' have a chip on their shoulder, always wanting to get better in life," Coach Hunter tells Bustle.
For both of these coaches, win or lose, the most important part of the game is empowering their players to be successful and productive people. Beyond passing the ball and setting up your screens, Smith's coaching philosophy is one of "caring and sharing."
"If you get beat on a drive, then I've got to help you and stop your man and then somebody's got to help me. That's how life works."
That is how life works. Whether you're a star NCAA player or not, these skills learned in the paint and through teamwork can only sharpen your chances of becoming successful in other parts of the "real world." I'd take notes if I were you guys. Then, again, I'm not a winning head coach. Yet.
For more inspiring words from Coach Tubby Smith and Coach Hunter, check out their partnership with Dove Men+Care, where they dive even deeper into the important bonds that they have formed throughout their basketball careers.