Yasir Rosemond grew up in Atlanta, Ga., played junior college basketball in Florida and Kansas and then finished his college career in Oregon. As a college coach, he’s never worked anywhere near the Midwest or for any team in the Big Ten.
But such was the draw of Indiana basketball — still, 34 years since its last national championship and 19 years since its last Final Four — that Rosemond was emotionally overwhelmed earlier this month when he was offered an opportunity to be an assistant coach at Indiana.
“I sat in my car and cried for 10 minutes when coach (Mike) Woodson offered me the job,” Rosemond said Thursday on SUVtv on a livestreamed YouTube interview on LaBWork, a podcast hosted by former Georgia Tech player and college assistant coach Darryl LaBarrie. “I really couldn’t believe it. When you’re going through coaching, this is one of the schools you look at and you’re like, ‘Man, if I could coach there.’ You’ve got your Dukes, your North Carolinas, who am I missing? Kentucky. And then you’ve got Indiana. … Just walking into that office everyday in Cook Hall, woo! It’s amazing. God is good, man. That’s all I can say. God is good.”
The Dukes, North Carolinas and Kentuckys and other blue bloods have all reached college basketball’s pinnacle much more recently than Indiana has, of course. They have a combined four national titles since 2010 and a combined 10 since Indiana’s last national title in 1987. However, Rosemond still sports the confidence of a new hire and believes the Hoosiers can get back to prominence quickly.
“I think we’re going to be able to get that thing back going,” Rosemond said. “I don’t really think it’s lost its luster. I tell people that all the time. It’s just going through a little bit of a lull. It’s not a place where they haven’t had guys, really good players there. They just haven’t had that success that they had for a long period of time going back to the ’80s.”
As a coach himself, LaBarrie got Rosemond talking about the job through a coach’s lens and how it’s different from the other places he worked — which include Oregon, Alabama and Georgia. Rosemond said that even this early into the job, he can notice a difference when he makes recruiting calls.
“The other day they had us talking to about 450 donors and I told them this,” Rosemond said. “It’s a little bit different when I call a kid now. There’s no one in the top 100 or top 10, top 15 that I don’t feel like I can call and they’ll pick up the phone. That hasn’t been the case at some of the other places I was at. Just having IU on your chest when you walk in the building or you make a phone call, people listen. People are going to listen. That’s something I’m very excited about. You and I both have been at high majors where you may call a top 10 kid and he may flirt with you, but he ain’t picking up your calls all the time. The kid’s excitement when you say, ‘This is coach Rosemond from Indiana University,’ it’s different.”
Most of LaBarrie’s interview focused on recruiting and how coaches are operating given the COVID-19 based rules that allowed players to play this season without losing a year of eligibility, the newly-approved one-time transfer rule that allows players to move without penalty, and the unprecedented number of players who have entered the transfer portal. In the course of that interview, Rosemond provided some insight as to how Indiana is approaching recruiting under Woodson so far and the team they’re trying to build.
Within that he acknowledged the attention the program gets, and how that affects the type of player they recruit.
“Character is big,” Rosemond said. “One thing about Indiana University that you know is you can’t just bring anyone into Indiana University. There’s a microscope on that program. We’re recruiting kids with good character, first. We recruit kids’ parents. We talk about those things. We talk about kids’ parents and how they may affect their kids. Being a parent, I can say that now (Rosemond and his wife recently had twins) I can see how parents can be a little overbearing, but they have to be of good character. They can’t be on Twitter and out there talking about AAU coaches. … You recruit character. You recruit your own problems. Obviously we give kids a chance, there are kids that are going to get a chance. But we’re not going to really take high-risk kids. We just can’t afford to do that at Indiana University, and I don’t think that’s what coach Woodson is looking for.”
He also added further confirmation and more detail about how the Hoosiers hope to play under Woodson, and what sort of players they would need to make that happen.
“Woody wants to play NBA style,” Rosemond said. “The college game has changed. The landscape of basketball has changed. We want to play open. We want to play four-out, one-in. We want the 1, 2, 3 and 4 to be able to push it. We’re looking for skilled, athletic guys. Long, skilled, athletic guys. And we’re also looking for guys who can play basketball. We’re not just looking for guys who can score 30 in an AAU game. We’re looking for guys who make the right play. … We’re going to do a lot of reading and reacting. That’s kind of how we want to play on offense, read and react. Switch on defense. You have to have smarts.”
Rosemond was more specific, saying the Hoosiers want to have players between 6-foot-4 to 6-6 on the wing positions. They want players who can switch on defense, dribble, pass and shoot at all four spots, with shooting being the most important skill.
“We’re looking for guys who can shoot the basketball,” Rosemond said. “Shooting the basketball is at a premium now. Dribbling the basketball is not at a premium. Being able to shoot the basketball, yes you need to be able to handle, but we’re looking for guys who can really make shots. Because as you know it opens up the floor so you can drive, kick, screen. It’s hard for guys defensively to stop an offense that can space the floor with multiple shooters.”
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