NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL: Cook dinner has confirmed recipe in Texas and assists in keeping locals within the combine - Troy File


AUSTIN, TEXAS — Regardless of being just about 2,000 miles away, Andre Cook dinner extra plugged into the ‘518’s’ basketball scene.

For excellent explanation why, because it’s the place the educator, 52, were given his get started. Occasion he lives in Austin, Texas, spending his evenings strolling the hilly streets of his residential group, Cook dinner nonetheless is living within the supremacy 10 for profession features at each Watervliet Prime College and Skidmore Faculty.

Cook dinner additionally assists in keeping the ‘518’ section code connected to his telephone quantity, 15 years since taking the task within the Lone Superstar Atmosphere and construction a untouched, successful legacy.

“I love the capital region. People always laugh, but I still call it, ‘I’m going home,’” Cook dinner stated in an over-the-phone interview with the Troy File. “It’s home and it’s always gonna be home. I loved every second about growing up in Watervliet, New York, playing on 23rd Street. I loved going to college at Skidmore College, going to grad school, I loved my time as a high school coach and my time as the head coach at Hudson Valley. I wouldn’t trade any of it.”

“The 518 – I just have nothing but love for it. That’s all I can say, and you can see I still have my (phone) number.”

Cook dinner took the task at St. Edward’s College, a non-public catholic college in Austin, Texas, with an enrollment of rather fewer than 3,000 consistent with the U.S. Section of Training (2021-22), 15 years in the past. He wrapped up back-to-back seasons at Hudson Valley Folk Faculty, with a 16-0 report in convention play games and a mixed, 5 overall losses total.

In his ultimate season with the Vikings, in 2008-09, Cook dinner led the workforce to the NJCAA Section III Nationwide Event, advancing to the semifinals. It used to be his first head training task on the collegiate degree. It taught him classes acceptable to these days’s month of school basketball and supplied an outlook now not many alternative coaches proportion.

On the youthful school degree, month now not having to like it, Cook dinner grew to simply accept and realized to navigate the switch portal’s fine details.

“It helped me understand this era a little bit more. Obviously, we still recruit freshmen. We want and you hope that this is a four or five-year relationship, but you can’t be pollyannaish about it and think, ‘Oh, the good old days.’ Adapt or die, adapt or die, and that’s what we have to do,” Cook dinner stated.

For Cook dinner, it’s nonetheless about holding the ‘main thing,’ the ‘main thing,’ in terms of the total switch portal and recruitment. Incomes a bachelor’s stage from Skidmore in ‘94, completing a master’s stage in social research educating at Union Faculty two years after, and with a spouse who graduated from the Faculty of Saint Rose, Cook dinner believes that ‘main thing,’ is located in school rooms and campuses, now not the hardwood and the vault accounts.

“If my athletic director walked in right now and said, ‘Hey, we’re shutting down men’s basketball.’ Well, okay, that’s terrible, I still have degrees from Skidmore and Union College; somebody might hire me. I might have a spot somewhere to go do something because of my education and you can tell me about the money and about professional opportunities, I get it, but still, for the overwhelming majority of them, education is still what carries today,” stated Cook dinner.

“Some of the best of the best are gonna go make hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars because of their basketball. But what’s that? 1%? 2%? The rest of us need our college degree,” he endured. “At some point that ball is gonna stop bouncing, you’re gonna be 25, 28, or 30, and you’re going to need to fall back on that St. Edward’s degree.”

So, when Cook dinner clash the switch portal this generation offseason for his NCAA Divison II basketball program, he returned to his roots and guys he thinks will determine with them. He’d recruited locals from the Capital Area to Austin, Texas, bringing in Niskayuna 2021 graduate Nick Benton as a freshman sooner than shifting to Saint Anselm in ‘22.

Two more are slated to join the Hilltoppers from Cook’s used neck of the logs—former Siena Faculty safeguard Mason Courtney and Saint Rose safeguard Latiek Briscoe.

“It’s hard, when you’re 18, 19, or 20, to come 1,800 miles away from the Capital Region. So, when we bring kids down here, we say, ‘Hey, there’s that part of- you can come into my office, and you can talk about home and I know what you’re talking about,’” Cook dinner stated. “They can come in my office, we can close the door and it’s like we can almost reminisce and talk about the ‘518’ and it feels like we’re home for a minute. Part of that, I think, brings a comfortability with some of the players that we get.”

Cook dinner’s Hilltoppers are coming off tying their perfect season since 2019-20, going 21-11 around the 2023-24 marketing campaign, with a 14-7 report in Lone Superstar Convention play games. Courtney and Briscoe noticed fairly the other years on their respective groups, because the Blonde Knights (D II) and Saints (D I) went a mixed 15-46 this generation season.

“Latiek and Mason, besides going to school five miles apart, things didn’t go perfectly right. This is a second chance, a breath of fresh air and I’m all for it. I look forward to getting it more,” Cook dinner stated.

“‘18-19, ‘19-20, we won 57 games. We just, since COVID, haven’t gotten that back,” he endured. “21 wins last year, 21 wins the year before, 17-12 the year before; I don’t know how many games we played in COVID (20) but we got to the championship that year. In the last few (years), we are good, just not good enough. A lot of teams would be happy with 59 wins in the last three years. We’re not going to give them back, but we need to get back into the NCAA Tournament and I’m hoping that these two guys that we’re talking about can help us do that.”

Courtney is ready to be a youthful at St. Edward’s alongside his 2nd collegiate cancel since graduating from Shenendehowa Prime College in 2021, the place he performed underneath buddies of Cook dinner’s – Paul Yattaw and Tony Dzikas.

In his freshman presen at Siena, Courtney seemed in 5 video games, logging 14 overall mins and nil features. As a sophomore, this generation season, Courtney used to be thrust into a far greater position for a more youthful Saints workforce, which on supremacy of a few inexperience used to be additionally marred through nagging accidents right through the season.

The native safeguard on the other hand made excellent usefulness of his alternative, completing as simplest one in all 3 Siena avid gamers to play games in all 32 video games, completing 5th at the workforce in points-per-game (6.1), and 2nd in overall assists (63). On the other hand, the manufacturing got here throughout a program-worst presen for Siena, completing 4-28 total later any other, convention event first-round removing.

Siena head educator and fellow Shenendehowa alum Carmen Maciairiello, who recruited Courtney from his alma mater, used to be fired on the finish of the 2023 season.

“When I’m home from our games, I’d have the (Siena) games on sometimes in the background while I’m getting organized, or I’d sit down and watch some of it. They had a tough year. Obviously, a lot going on with injuries, not winning, a coaching change,” Cook dinner stated. “Mason Courtney, every time I watched them play on those Sundays, I noticed the kid was playing hard, he clearly had to play out of position and he was clearly trying to do everything he could, in a tough situation.

“I’m watching him get guys together in the huddle, dive on the floor, try to bring the ball up against pressure, and I just had an appreciation. He, to me, stood out in a tough situation,” Cook dinner added.

Next studying the youthful’s ‘main thing’ used to be turning into an orthopedic surgeon, stemming from some in-person conferences and over-the-phone conversations with Courtney and his former coaches. Cook dinner used to be bought.

In Cook dinner’s visible, the finishing at Siena confirmed him extra about Courtney’s persona than the play games taste.

“He’s hardened. You’re a local kid, whose parents are Siena alums, and you heard a lot of venom all last year. In year one, I don’t know if he made a shot. In year two – and we’re all on some sort of social media and the things that people said about this kid were not nice – and he just played. He just kept trying to figure out if he could just help his team get a win,” Cook dinner stated. “I think Mason would tell you himself that two years ago, he wouldn’t be ready to leave his family to come to Texas. I think that experience at Siena was real life and eye-opening.

“Firings, new team, losing, being booed, people on you on social media that hide behind a fake name and say mean stuff, that toughens you up and allows you to say- ‘I’m gonna come 1,800 miles and blaze a new path,’” he stated.

Briscoe is not any stranger to enjoying via and round suffering both, as entering the 2023-24 marketing campaign, he and the extra of the student-athletes at Saint Rose have been knowledgeable that the college used to be endmost on the finish of that instructional presen.

On supremacy of the preliminary doubt about his generation, Briscoe happening to trauma seven video games into his sophomore season couldn’t have helped alleviate the power.

“His situation was tough and he is mature beyond his years,” Cook dinner stated, “and he’s a good player that I hope is a guy that can go get us a bucket. I want good guys that can play in a system, score, and shoot, and my hope with Latiek is that he can go get a bucket for us and add all sorts of value to the locker room.”

Briscoe performed in 32 overall video games throughout his two years at Saint Rose, origination in 26 and averaging 10.3 features in step with duel, on 42% taking pictures.

Once more, Cook dinner put feelers to the ‘518’ for analysis and suggestions of his untouched, possible safeguard, this year, getting to Blonde Knights’ educator Brian Beaury, who he referred to as an ‘Albany institution,’ in basketball. On the other hand, the sparkling impact that led Briscoe to St. Edward’s didn’t simply come from his used educator. Briscoe needed to do one of the leg paintings himself.

“(Beaury) described a few of his players that he felt would be good for us. The one I kept coming back to, in terms of toughness, leadership, work ethic, and a wantingness to win, was Latiek,” Cook dinner recalled. “Then I started talking to Latiek. This kid is from New York City, he had to earn everything, got told his school was closing, and he was the real deal of toughness. I talked to him and I looked down at the phone and said, ‘Man, we’ve just been talking for 45 minutes, just about life, his Mom, New York City and Saint Rose, and his injury.’

“His generation is not one to talk on the phone a lot. They don’t have long conversations. It’s just the way it is…Latiek is just kind of old school. His conversing and ringing you up not just to talk about basketball, but about life, family, goals, and what he wants to get out of this, just really struck me as, ‘Wow, I want to be around this kid,’” Cook dinner endured. “Brian’s eyes say he can play. My eyes say he can play. Now, he was coming like this over phone conversations? I think Latiek and I are going to have a long relationship.”

However, as Cook dinner’s training profession nears the three-decade mark since origination at Hudson Falls Prime College in ’96, his generation isn’t simply forgotten. With greater than 400 wins throughout all ranges of training and a successful proportion of .641, it’s dried to believe the Watervliet local now not being a sizzling commodity in important, Divison I systems.

Cook dinner has distinguishable it firsthand, each for himself and alternative, mid-major and Divison II coaches making the step up. Nonetheless, the native needs to book the ‘main thing’ the ‘main thing.’

“Guys are getting opportunities and that can only help others and with someone A.D. (athletic director) maybe taking a shot. But, as you get older, and you look at your family, everybody is happy,” Cook dinner stated. “My wife has a great job, my daughter loves her college, my son is at the high school he wants to be at and everybody’s happy. Do I, at this point in our lives, try to do something and try to take a chance and disrupt everyone else’s happiness? I’m not sure.”

“If we keep winning, hopefully winning at a high level, maybe some things open up. If not, I’m living where it’s 90 degrees outside, I can hear the birds chirping and life is good. I’m on my time,” Cook dinner added.

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