The University of Houston Magazine

James Dickey Q & A

New Basketball Head Coach Shooting for Balance of Execution and Enthusiasm.


James Dickey became the eighth head coach of the men’s basketball team in 2010, bringing with him a wealth of hardcourt experience and insight. As a head coach at Texas Tech for 10 years and assistant coach at schools such as Oklahoma State, Kentucky and Arkansas, he mentored 25 players who played in the NBA and he has competed in 12 NCAA Tournaments. “Winning programs, with first-class student-athletes on and off the court, have followed James DickeyJames throughout his career,” UH Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades said, “and that is certainly no coincidence.” With his first season well under way, including a victory against nationally ranked and previously undefeated University of Central Florida, Coach Dickey discussed his vision for UH hoops.

UH: You are nearly halfway through the regular season. How would you assess it so far?
JD: We have made progress. We are disappointed that we haven’t won more games, but our players understand what we would like to accomplish. I am excited about our program and how hard these players are working. I am looking forward to the future of Cougar Basketball. Hopefully, we can get our fans excited and get them out to Hofheinz Pavilion, which has a great atmosphere when it’s filled.

UH: What challenges did you face?
JD: Losing two great guards in Aubrey Coleman and Kelvin Lewis. They had a terrific run with UH advancing to the NCAA Tournament last year. Filling the void in the offensive production and leadership that those two players brought has been a real challenge.

UH: What do you want your team to accomplish this first season?
JD: The biggest thing is we’re trying to be good defensively. Defense gives you a chance to win every night whether you are at home or on the road. That has been a major emphasis – rebounding, taking care of the basketball and not turning it over. Offensively, we must score by committee, share the ball, make the extra pass and be disciplined in our execution.

UH: How would you describe your on-court approach during a game?
JD: To be positive and enthusiastic with our players, but, at the same time, to be demanding in what our expectations are in terms of effort and execution.

UH: What is your favorite part of coaching?
JD: I love being on the floor with the players. Obviously, I realize the importance of recruiting talent, and I enjoy that as well.

UH: What is the most challenging part of coaching?
JD: Being able to balance quality time with my family because I spend so much time on the job, and I am gone so much.

UH: Who has been your biggest influence as a coach?
JD: My dad and my mom. My wife Bettye was a great player. As a mentor, Coach Eddie Sutton has been tremendous. I spent 12 years with him, four at Arkansas, four at Kentucky and four at Oklahoma State.

UH: During the season, what is a typical day for you?
JD: It’s long. You get in early, try to get a workout. You clear your desk, return phone calls. You have a staff meeting, watch film. We try to see every player during the day to see how they are doing. You organize your practice schedule and talk about the upcoming game or the next practice. The highlight is practice every day. In the evening, you look at tape of your next opponent, return more calls and answer mail. Before you know it, the day and the evening are gone.

UH: What is something about you that most people don’t know?
JD: I’m a wanna-be cowboy. I like the Western lifestyle – boots and jeans, working quarter horses. I grew up in the country. My family always had cattle and horses. That is part of my roots.