By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports
Last month, Nichols College announced the hiring of Brandon Linton, who becomes the 20th men’s basketball coach in program history.
Linton arrived at the Dudley, Massachusetts campus after spending the past five seasons as an assistant coach at Army West Point where he helped the Cadets with numerous tasks, including scouting reports to working with the wing players at practice to assisting with in-game strategy.
Before assisting the Army West Point men’s basketball program, Linton spent time as an assistant at both his alma mater, Clarkson University, and Bowdoin College.
Coaching a program like Nichols certainly intrigued Linton, who is excited “to continue building on what has already been established” with the Nichols men’s basketball program.
“The chance to take over a program that represents excellence, both on and off of the basketball court was important to me,” said Linton when asked about becoming the new men’s basketball coach at Nichols. “Also, the growth potential of the program was equally intriguing, (as well).”
Nichols concluded its 2018-19 season with an impressive 28-3 mark. The Bison advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Tournament earlier this year, thanks to postseason victories against Amherst College, Middlebury College, and Rowan University.
Additionally, Nichols also captured the 2019 Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) title with a 105-90 victory over Gordon College.
Noontime Sports recently caught-up with Coach Linton to discuss his excitement for the upcoming season.
As a former Division III, men’s basketball player did you always want to coach or become a head coach at this particular level?
Absolutely. I had the great fortune to play for Adam Stockwell during my first three years at Clarkson. I remember sitting in his office as a freshman and sophomore, and him telling me that I would be a college basketball coach one day. Prior to that, I had casually thought about the idea of it, but after (those conversations) I began to own that reality. Everything I’ve done since was aimed at this goal of becoming a Division III head coach.
What do you know about the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC)? Are you excited to coach in a very competitive league?
I’m extremely excited to coach in this league. I know that it is made up of high-level coaches that have built some of the best and most competitive programs in New England. The talent across the board is impressive and something that I notice has improved since my departure from Division III. This is a conference that I believe should be a multiple bid league to the NCAA tournament (every season). I look forward to the challenge of being in that mix.
How did your experience with Army West Point shape you into the coach you are today?
I couldn’t be more grateful for my time at Army. The development that I was able to take part in both on and off of the basketball court was truly remarkable. It is the preeminent leadership development institution in the world. From the faculty to the cadets and all the variety of guest speakers that came through West Point, it truly was a hub for leadership development.
Basketball-wise, being able to coach at the Division I level just provides an amazing amount of time that you get to spend coaching and teaching the game to your players. We also fielded a junior varsity team at West Point, which allowed us as (to gain experience) being a head coach as assistants to the varsity. More than anything, being around the people day in and day out was the number one takeaway that I believe will shape me into the coach I am and hope to be.
Great coaches are great leaders. And great leaders are great people first.
What are some of the biggest goals/objectives you (and the men’s basketball program) hope to accomplish between now and the team’s first practice?
The biggest thing will be developing the framework for meaningful relationships with each other. That is from new staff to players and vice versa. It will also be amongst the current players as well. Acclimating the newcomers into the fold, while also continuing to develop even stronger bonds with your returning teammates (will be a must, as well). That will be our biggest focus prior to our first practice on October 15th.
A few quick-hitters, beginning with your all-time favorite memory of playing basketball.
Without a doubt, it has to be back in 2008 when I was a part of Clarkson’s first-ever Liberty League (LL) championship. We advanced to the NCAA Tournament as a fourth-seed in our conference’s tournament, which made it even sweeter.
Legitimately, no one believed we could get it done because there was honestly no prior reason to think so, but only the individuals in our locker room believed (we could win a conference championship) and that’s all that mattered. It’s something that has stuck with me ever since (and proves what) the power of belief can accomplish.
Who was a player you idolized growing up?
Tracy McGrady. Unfortunately for me, my teammates and coaches, however, I played nothing like McGrady, but when I got to college, I really enjoyed watching Rajon Rondo when he first started playing for the Boston Celtics. I enjoyed watching Rondo as a student-athlete with the Celtics – he was a big part of their resurgence. I played the point for Clarkson and I really respected how he played that position. And that’s probably why my three-point percentage was what it was, too.
Finally, if you could coach any basketball player, both current or past, who would it be and why?
Growing up in New York City, I was and still am a big fan of the New York Knicks. We’ve fallen on hard times for a good 15-20 years, however, as a kid, there were some awesome teams for me to follow.
I fell in love with basketball by watching John Starks play. I would always wear his number (three) whenever I could in youth tournaments and recreational leagues. The passion and swag that he played with was everything to me. He embodied what it meant to be a New Yorker, as well. He was hard-nosed, did whatever it took for the greater good of the team, and took the challenge of guarding the best players on the other team. He also jacked three-pointers, too, which was still a newer thing for the game during the 1990s.
John Starks is definitely someone I would love to coach.
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