One on One with Dana Ford

Q: What is it like being hired as the youngest coach in Division I basketball?

“I’m very grateful and honored to be the head coach at Tennessee State. I am the youngest head coach and it’s a little bit weird sometimes coaching against people who have been coaching longer than I have been living, but at the end of the day, it’s all about how much you know and how much you can learn and get your guys to buy in. Most of the time, it doesn’t have anything to do with how old you are. I’m very grateful to be here at TSU and appreciative that they hired me at such a young age. ”

Q: You spent some time on Gregg Marshall Wichita State team’s staff. What do you most take away from that experience?

“Gregg Marshall is a tremendous basketball coach and I really learned a lot from watching him run a program from top to bottom. Turning over every stone, holding people accountable and getting teams prepared to play the game the right way and conducting themselves as men on and off the floor.”

Q: Over 700 student athletes transferred at the Division I level last year. Has this changed Tennessee State’s outlook on recruiting?

“We definitely take a look at the transfer market. That’s something that we do as a staff throughout the year. It is a huge epidemic right now in our sport. Sometimes it works out really well for schools like Tennessee State and sometimes it doesn’t work out so well for certain schools that lose key players heading into big years. Right now, it’s been something that we’ve really taken advantage of and hopefully that continues in the future.”

Q: What is a typical day like in the life of a Tennessee State student-athlete during the season?

“Our guys start their day off typically with class and it’s mandatory that they attend all classes on time. Then after class, if they have to work on things like weights or treatment in the training room, there’s a time allotted for that. Then we start with the basketball stuff around 2:30 every day. We start with some film and then we go to practice for an hour or an hour and a half this time of year, then they go directly to dinner then study hall. Their days are pretty much structured out for them every day and they start around 8 a.m. and typically end around 8 or 9 p.m.”

Q: What is it like recruiting for the only HBCU in your conference?

“We have a unique situation being the only HBCU in the Ohio Valley Conference. We have things that other schools in our conference can’t offer a recruit. We really sell the family atmosphere and the uniqueness of our university and the school spirit. It’s the opportunity to be part of history as well as make more recent history.”

Q: Will we see the Hampton vs. Tennessee State match up some time in the near future?

“Scheduling is something that’s very hard in this line of work. I’m sure if both teams have available dates, we could possibly see a match up of the two in the near future. They have to do what’s the best for their program and we feel like we have to do the best for our program. They have a great program and it’s somebody we have a lot of respect for.”

Q: How do you instill leadership in your upperclassman players?

“First of all, we teach them what a leader is, and then we try to do it ourselves as coaches so they can have a walking model. We hold them accountable every day and put them in situations where they must be leaders. If they fail, we just correct them and try to teach them how to become better leaders. If they do well, we acknowledge that and praise that in the hopes that they can continue to learn through experience.”

Q: What does this team have to do be successful in this year’s OVC conference tournament?

“Everything for us starts on the defensive end and then on the rebounding part of it. If we can clean up those two areas and really not give up easy buckets, then we feel like on the other end, if we can at least get a shot at the basket every time down by not turning the ball over, that would really help us.”

Q: What are your long-term goals for this men’s basketball program as a whole?

“We just want to consistently be one of the top teams in our conference. We want to consistently recruit young men that graduate and that conduct themselves with high character on and off the court. We feel if we can do those type of things, the winning will come, but most importantly just continue to develop young men and hopefully change their lives forever.”

Q: How have events such as Hoops for Heroes, court side dining, and Greek Night energized your student body and fan base.

“This year, our fan base has been extremely better than what is has been in year’s past and a lot of the credit goes to our student body. Our student section is full mostly every game. I think when we have theme nights, they really bring people out. Everyone has a connection through something and the game of basketball gives us the opportunity to all get together in one place, hopefully watch a good game as well as fellowship with our other alums and fellow students. We’re very appreciative for our marketing team that puts together our theme nights.”

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