Mike Daniel has enjoyed consistent success in his 29 years of coaching boys basketball in the area.
He began by putting Towson Catholic on the map -- winning four Baltimore Catholic League and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference titles (1998-2001) -- before moving to City and capturing state titles in 2009 and 2010.
After a year at Severn, Daniel is now in his first season at New Town and getting the No. 11 Titans (19-3) ready for a run in the Class 1A state playoffs.
On Feb. 13, Daniel guided New Town to a 69-60 win over Randallstown for his 500th career win. Now, Daniel and the Titans are looking forward to more wins with the playoffs set to start.
Earning the top seed in the Class 1A North region, the Titans have a bye in the opening round and will meet the Havre de Grace-FAET winner in next Thursday's second round.
Have you reflected on your milestone win?
It's something we're aware of and we're excited about. My assistant coaches are excited for me, and I'm excited for them because they were a big part of it. But the playoffs are around, so we haven't had time to enjoy it fully. It's a great accomplishment and I'm very happy for it. But I'm more happy with the group of kids that I have who were with me and part of that ride. So we're going to get ready for the playoffs and then we'll enjoy that 500th victory down the road.
What is your approach and how may it change when the playoffs come?
We try to be consistent with what has made us successful over the course of the regular season. Defense really has to be in the forefront now. We try to prepare by tightening up the screws, play the tough defense and just go out and work. I feel if we can outwork everyone, then we have a good shot.
What's it going to take for the team to make an extended run?
It's going to take focus, determination and will. And like I've always taught -- defensively we have to do the better job. If we can do those four things, we'll be successful.
What's the one constant message you have preached throughout the years?
The one message I tell the kids is let's try to be successful. Let's try to be successful in the classroom, let's try to be successful off the court and let's try to be successful on the court. And let's grow up to be strong young men, it's soemthing that we really, really encourage -- along with education -- and we feel that's who we are and that's what makes us. So again, it's about the kids' success that we're coaching.
What do you enjoy most about coaching?
The camaraderie with the other coaches who compete against me -- the mind games, the strategy -- I really enjoy that. And mostly, i enjoy the kids that I coach. Some of them may get on my nerves sometimes [laughs], but that's all part of it. Last but not least, seeing my kids go on in life -- with or without a basketball in their hands -- and be successful is what it's all about.
What was it like coaching NBA great Carmelo Anthony during your days at Towson Catholic?
It was tough, but the end result was unbelievable. His jump from freshman to junior year -- the strides he made during that course was unbelievable. When he was a junior, he was a man. We would play games and teams would devise all these defenses, all these gimmicks to try to stop him and there was no doing it. He was just so skilled for a kid his size. he was about 6-6 or 6-7 and still growing and in his junior year, his shoulders started to pop up, the chest started to take form and he was an absolute man.