Flying Dutchmen players are more than four decades younger than the fiery van Breda Kolff.
(continued from page 58)
a senior citizen, says he is still a young man
at heart — and that serves him well with his
"I've always been involved #with young
kids, and I've kept up with them," he says.
"I know their likes and dislikes and that
helps me relate to them.
"My track record has also helped me deal
with the kids, too," he continues. "The first
year I returned to Lafayette, and then, Hofstra, the players said, 'Hey, he's been successful, so we'd better listen to everything he
He has won more than 400 games colle-
giately, yet van Breda Kolff says he's more
interested in preparing his players for life
than he is in winning.
"For the most part, my kids aren't going
to be professional ballplayers," he says. "So,
it's important I teach them something about
life. For that reason, I don't believe in 'making' them weight train, attend study halls or
the like. I prefer to tell them why they should
want to do it. Then, if I have to, I 'make'
them do it, though I'm not sure that's very
"My philosophy is this: we can't coddle
athletes," he continues. "We can't take them
by the hand and do everything for them, because that continues the spoiling process
most of them have enjoyed since they were
kids. Sometimes I say to the players, 'You'd
better get married right after you graduate so
you'll have someone to do everything for
you, because you can't do it yourself.'
"I try to get them ready for life by having
them do things for themselves."
Armstrong is also worried that a sense of
perspective is being lost in college basketball.
"I agree with (Seton Hall's) P.J.
Carlesimo when he says,
'Coaches get too much of the
credit when teams win and too
much of the blame when they
lose.' The players — the kids —
that's what the game is for and
what it's all about."
"The essence of the game is kids, and
how basketball should help them grow and
mature," he says. "That's what it's all about
— not so much wins and losses, averages
and minutes played, but how you cooperated
with each other, how you helped each other
out — things like that."
Neither van Breda Kolff, who is at the twilight of his great coaching career, nor Armstrong, just at the dawn of his, have any misgivings about their method of making a
"No regrets," van Breda Kolff says firmly,
"none whatsoever. Certainly, you look back
over your life and you say, 'Why did I ever
do that?' but then you realize that at that
point in your life, the move was the right
choice. And there's nothing I would have
"I just wish," Armstrong says, "that people had a better understanding of what a
coach goes through. I'm young, I'm a bachelor, so I experience no strain on my family
life as a result of being a coach. But I've
seen it happen to other guys, and it's a tough
experience to endure — and to watch."
In fact, Armstrong says, there's too much
emphasis on the role of the coach.
"I agree with (Seton Hall's) P.J. Carlesimo when he says, 'Coaches get too much of
the credit when teams win and too much of
the blame when they lose.' The players —
the kids — that's what the game is for and
what it's all about."
Especially for men like Butch van Breda
Kolff and Jack Armstrong, the oldest and
youngest head coaches in Division I men's
college basketball. $