Returning to teach at his alma mater after graduating from Towson, Mike Rudd had to decide on pursuing a coaching career in basketball or football.
Rudd had played both sports in high school before concentrating on football at Towson. But for him there was something special about Glen Burnie basketball -- the success the program consistently enjoyed under former coach Terry Bogle, the camaradarie among teammates, and the regularly packed home gym.
The 1980 grad has been with the program for 26 years, his first 10 as an assistant under Bogle and the past 16 as head coach.
Under Rudd, the success has continued. The No. 14 Gophers have enjoyed 13 straight winning seasons, and they're headed for No. 14 with their impressive 9-0 start. Rudd has a 236-137 mark in his 16 years, guiding the Gophers to three state playoff appearances.
The team is coming off a 73-69 double overtime win against South Carroll in the title game of their J.T. Bogle Invitational on Tuesday. The Gophers are banking on carrying that success into the 2012 portion of the schedule. On Tuesday, Glen Burnie travels to No. 11 Arundel (4-0) in a key Anne Arundel battle to start a pivotal stretch.
Right now, it's basketball, basketball and more basketball for Rudd, and that's just fine. In addition to watching over his Gophers, he also can be found watching his son, Tyler, play at McDaniel College. A junior now, Tyler was an All-Anne Arundel forward playing under his father before graduating from Glen Burnie in 2009. Mike Rudd says Tyler is not only his son, but also his best friend. When they're not talking hoops, chances are they'll be talking Ravens football.
What has been the key to the team's 9-0 start?
The kids are buying into what they're taught. I preach to them every day about mental toughness and it was really revealing in that game with South Carroll. We had it won, then we had lost it. But they refused to lose, they were going to go down fighting. I'm never going to ask a kid to run a play we've never practiced, never going to ask a kid to do something he's not capable of, but I'm going to ask him to go hard every single night because they can control that. We ask them to play tough defense every single night. Some nights, we're going to have trouble running our offense and shooting, but our defense can be consistent.
How can the win against South Carroll help the team later in the season?
It was a playoff-like atmosphere, playoff-like intensity and even if we would have lost that game it would help us down the road. Obviously you want to win it because it helps you build more confidence, but I told the guys afterward that a game like that in December is only going to help us in March.
When do you first get an idea that you may have the makings of a special team?
In the summer. Now we're able to do some things in the summer league and you can get a pretty good idea. The guys are kind of spread out, but you know what you have coming back and you never know if you may also get a transfer. With this group, I knew we were going to be solid because I've had most of them since their ninth grade year, so they're all program guys. A lot of schools in our county have gotten quite a few transfers this year, but I'll take the home grown guys because they know me, they know our system and you develop more chemistry that way.
What are some things you look for during warm-ups before each game?
I look to see how we're warming up and I always look to see how the other team is warming up and it can tell me a lot. When South Carroll was in here the other night, I could see they were all business. I watch us warm up and it' like a tradition, at about the 14:30 mark [before the start of the game], I take them downstairs and let them know what I think. I've pulled them off the court during warm-ups if I don't like what I see. I tell them if they're going to embarass me and our coaches then we're going to embarass them and yank them off the court in front of everybody. Rarely has that ever happened. I make my assistant coaches stand on the baseline and watch our warm-ups and that gives me a look at the other team. I want to see how hard they're going, how interested they look.
What's the oldest drill you still use?
The three-man weave. It teaches them how to communicate with each other, look the ball in their hands. It also emphasizes shooting the lay-up off the correct foot; emphasizes them shooting the ball on the right side with the right hand and the left hand on the left side. It's old school and I'm an old-school guy.
BONUS QUESTION: What was it like having the chance to coach your son, Tyler?
It made me a better coach all the way around and it helped me understand where parents come from. Every parent is sending me the best that they have and they all want to play. Obivously, they're all biased and I am too when I watch Tyler play. But when Tyler played for me, he was just another kid and we were able to separate that. If he wasn't good enough to play, he wouldn't have played. But we were fortunate that he could play and every other coach in the county told me they would have loved to have him.