Doleac reflects on first year as head coach, senior group
Former NBA champion learned a lot in first season
February 17, 2017
Mike Doleac has accomplished much in his basketball career.
In college, he was a key cog down low for Rick Majerus and the Runnin' Utes when they advanced to the 1998 NCAA National Championship game. He went on to be drafted No. 12 overall in the 1998 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, where he was named to the All-Rookie second team. He produced a 10-year career in the NBA, which included winning a ring in 2006 with the Miami Heat as the backup to a legend in Shaquille O'Neal.
What he never learned throughout his playing career, however, was how to be a head coach. So when he took over as the Park City High School head coach this last season, he was crossing into unchartered waters.
"That was a really good experience for me to go through and be the head coach for the season," Doleac said. "There's nothing like being in that seat and doing it. I learned a ton."
The Miners finished up their first season under Doleac's watch last Friday with a 68-39 loss to Grantsville, the Region 10 champions. Their final record stands at 5-17, but this season was more of an adjustment period, for Doleac and the players, than anything.
Along with Doleac being new at the helm, there were many players on the team adjusting to the new system Doleac wanted in place. Some players, including some of the eight seniors, simply hadn't played much basketball.
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"It was definitely a unique experience to have those guys and I think they learned a ton," Doleac said. "Having relatively limited experience, as far as playing basketball here at Park City High, they hadn't played a ton. What they accomplished was pretty darn good."
Doleac's knowledge of the game is somewhat a rarity in high school basketball. It's not every day someone with his accolades coaches at the high-school level.
"I can't think of another high school that has an NBA champion as their coach," senior Jack Lecher said.
Doleac's system requires a great deal of basketball IQ, not to say that the offenses and defense run at PCHS pre-Doleac were easy. Throughout the year, he would ease in new plays so the players didn't feel swamped from the get-go. As the year went along, the team started to get the hang of it.
The wins may not have followed, but it certainly was not for a lack of effort.
"The biggest thing I was proud of was how hard they tried to do what I was asking them to do," Doleac said. "It's a big shift to go from not playing into trying to run the defense I was asking them to play and trying to play the offense that I was asking them to run. They really, really fought as hard as they could to learn that and do what I was asking them to do."
While he hopes he taught the players a great deal, Doleac said what he's gotten in return is much more.
"I think I probably learned more than the kids learned this year as a first-year head coach," Doleac said. "That was humbling and kind of invigorating, as well."
Doleac's first year as head coach is in the books, and it was already an improvement from the one-win Miners a season ago. With an impressive group of underclassmen making its way through the ranks, the future for Doleac and company could be a bright one.
And he's already thinking about next season.
"I thought I would sleep better when the season ended, but I actually haven't been," Doleac said. "I've been wondering about all the things I did wrong this year and how I can improve them for next year and looking at who we have for next year."
In the end, winning on the court is one thing, but Doleac would rather see his players winning off of it. If he helps in that endeavor, he feels he has done his job as a head coach.
"The sport of basketball is trying to provide an opportunity to give kids a competitive environment," Doleac said. "That teaches you more about how to be successful in life, necessarily, than how to be successful on the court. I think the kids really made some good progress there."