“We’ve got to turn this corner,” Rhode Island head coach David Cox said following the Rams final game of their non conference schedule against Middle Tennessee.
“I am accepting nothing less than winning. That’s the culture that we’ve established here. Those are the expectations. We are now entering conference play and I am ready to get another A-10 Championship.”
A culture and a set of expectations that Dan Hurley helped create in Kingston that are now defined as, “Rhode Island basketball.”
I’ve said it since March 22, 2018.
If the program Hurley built in Kingston, Rhode Island was a skyscraper and Hurley himself the tower’s constructor, than the man holding the blueprint was David Cox.
That’s not to discredit the efforts of Hurley. The man is a winner. Plain and simple.
However, head college basketball coaches across the country assemble staffs that can speak to the true potential and future of their programs.
Hurley had great staffs, comprised of basketball minds that have forgotten more about the game than most will ever know. No mind brighter than Cox’s. Hurley knew how important Cox was to his staff, hence making Cox his associate head coach for each of the last four seasons he was at Rhode Island.
Being the lead recruiter on the likes of Jeff Dowtin, Fatts Russell and Stan Robinson and helping secure 91 wins over a four-year stretch, are just the tip of a glacier of accolades Cox helped bring to Kingston while on Hurley’s staff.
Cox has the basketball mind but his ability to relate to his players is the critical piece that made him the right fit to lead the Rams.
In the world of coaching 45 years old is young. Forget the resumé, recruiting connections or trophy case Cox brings to the Ryan Center, his youth is enough of a statement. If Cox was at a job interview he’d have employeers asking, “You’re only 45 and you’ve done this much?”
Cox is driven like a freshmen coming off the bench. He has to prove himself a little bit more each and every game. He’s done a fair job thus far in all aspects of the game; recruiting, coaching and developing. Freshmen are starting to take major strides, he’s secured his first recruiting class as the head coach and the Rams are ready to make a run in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Cox continues to instill confidence in his young team. “Coach has been telling me, ‘Knock down that corner three for me. That corner three is always open. You’re going to get your shot,'” freshman Dana Tate said after a career-high 15 points vs. Middle Tennessee on Sunday. “I waited it out, waited for my time to come. They trust me with those shots.”
Expressing confidence in a young core can develop something pretty special in the long run. But Cox’s relationship with his players is deeper than patting them on the back when they’ve done good. He holds them and himself accountable to play “Rhode Island basketball.” He knows the standard that has been set and expects his players to meet that every game.
“We’ve made progress, but I am not satisfied at all,” Cox said about the team’s performance in their non conference slate. “This is not where we want to be. 7-5 is unacceptable. We had a couple of games that we should have definitely won. That’s going to bother me for a while.
“But also I have to be fair to these guys. We’ve got a young core that we are trying to mesh with a group of older guys who also lack some experience. There definitely has been growth. I am proud of their effort and their coachability.”
Cox and his Rams start the conference schedule with back-to-back road contests vs. St. Louis on Sunday afternoon and vs. Richmond one week from Wednesday.
“The David Cox Coach’s Show” premieres on YurView live Thursday, January 3 at 6PM EST on YurView, Cox Channels 4 and 1004 in Rhode Island, and it will be streamed live on yurview.com.