D-League Q&A: Iowa Head Coach Nick Nurse
The expansion Iowa D-League team took an important step towards their first season with the hiring of Nick Nurse as the team's first head coach. Nurse is an Iowa native who has spent the last 12 years as a head coach in Europe after a stellar playing career at Northern Iowa. I caught up with Coach Nurse the day after his hiring to talk about how he is preparing to lead Iowa into the D-League, and about the opportunity to return to his home state for the next phase of his coaching career. The Iowa team, based in the state's capital city of Des Moines, is one of three expansion teams set to join the D-League for the 2007-08 season.
How does it feel to get this opportunity to coach a D-League team in Iowa?
When did you hear about the this job and how did your hiring come about?
"Well, I knew that this had been in the works for a while with the local ownership group. I made some contacts with them and I was fortunate enough to be considered, and to be hired, it was really that simple. I heard the rumblings that Des Moines might be getting a D-League team and so I contacted them about my interest and here we are."
Do you think everything is in place for a team to succeed in Des Moines?
"No question about it. It's a really strong basketball state. The local ownership is outstanding, the group has long-reaching connections throughout the community and they are a big part of the Des Moines community. Lastly, the brand new Wells Fargo Arena downtown is a spectacular place for people to come and watch a basketball game, as well as any event."
How familar are you with the D-League?
"I'm pretty familiar, I know a lot of guys that have played and coached in the league, and I have tried to follow the league very closely this season. Obviously now we are going to step that up as we get ready for next season."
Now that you are in place as the head coach, what is the next step for you in order to get ready for the team to begin playing?
"I think in this job, you always have to be cognizant of the fact of the awarenesss locally, I have to get out and tell people who we are, what we are about, what kind of players we are gonna have, and those kind of things. I'll put on my promotional hat and get out and talk about the excitement and the talent level that is going to be here. Then I'll watch game tape and take a look at the pre-draft camp, the summer leagues, and things like that.
You coached in Europe for the past 12 years, what was that experience like?
"I primarily was in England, I also had a stint in Belgium. I coached three times in either the European Cup or the Euro League, which was a really good experience. I coached against a few NBA players, Pau Gasol when he played for Barcelona in the European Cup and Andrei Kirelenko for Moscow in the Northern Europe League when I was coaching the London Towers. I got to coach at a really high level there, I was over there for a long time but it was good to get so much head-coaching experience in a different environment."
Is there going to be a big adjustment in going from a head coach in a European league to coaching in the D-League?
"It certainly will be an adjustment, I would come home in the summer and do something, I had three seasons in the USBL, I had a season with the Milwaukee Bucks, and I also coached in the L.A. Summer League. I've had some experience, I've tried to get more comfortable with the rules, but it will be a transition. I know that there are some good coaches in the league and I want to catch up with the learning curve as quickly as I can.