Monday, April 15, 2013

Nick Souder: The Yin to Rob Cross' Yang

Last week, I posted on our head manager and one of my best friends Rob Cross. I described his unrivaled passion and absurd level of commitment to the program, and now I am going to introduce you to one of my other best friends from the program Nick Souder. Nick, like Rob, is a junior but that is about where the similarities end between the two.

While Rob will drop anything in order to help the program, Nick won't drop much of anything to be in the gym. Nick does an excellent job, but he is the type who wants to do his job and then get on with other areas of his life. He doesn't want his life to be solely contained in Memorial Gym. Nick is a manager not because he wants a career in sports but because he does it for fun and to earn some money during the year. Despite being with the program for 3 years, Nick still doesn't know the difference between a cross screen, rear screen, and ball screen and if you ask him about what our ballscreen defense consists of, he is likely to say, "guard the ball" or something along those lines.

Whereas Rob will spend his spare time watching clips on Synergy (a basketball video and scouting service), rebounding at midnight for Rod Odom, or drawing up plays he may or may not run 15 years down the line, Nick does the complete opposite. Nick spends most of his spare time doing homework, as he is an engineering major and whatever is left of his time he spends watching TV or playing golf. Nick likes basketball, but his true passion is golf. He is much more likely to watch a random golf tournament like the Buick Open than he is to watch an NBA Playoff game.

Nick is a get the job done and then get out kind of a guy. His most dreaded phone calls come from Rob (or one of the assistants if Rob is out of town) asking to go to the gym and do extra work. And to be honest, those were my most dreaded phone calls as well. For instance, Rob was at the Final Four last weekend, and some of our workout diagrams that we hang in the practice gym had been taken down, and it was "urgent" that Nick velcro them back to the wall. Nick had about as much interest in doing this as Tiger Woods has in abstinence, which is to say not much, but he did it anyway.

In addition to the various ways in which they spend their spare time, Nick's management style is quite different from Rob's. While Rob hesitates to make executive decisions and struggles with long term planning (he is much more at ease doing things right before they are due), Nick is the opposite. Nick makes a decision (often time for Rob) and sticks with it and has no trouble enforcing his decision. I sometimes think of Rob like the Supreme Court. He will render a verdict on what he would like to see done, but based on getting distracted by other things he doesn't enforce the long-term goals he sets for himself or the program. Nick is like the president, he enforces the law.

Rob is extremely reluctant to impose on anyone else, particularly the players. Rob feels like since our job consists of making the sure the players can play and the coaches can coach, without having to worry about the minute details, that asking the players to do anything outside of play or practice is an unnecessary imposition on them. Even if it will make our job much easier, or helps make the organization run better, Rob will hardly ever ask a player to step outside their comfort zone, because he feels like no matter what the dilemma or situation is, he will be able to get it done himself. Just like he is reluctant to delegate, he is reluctant to ask the players for their extra time, and those are two of the main reasons why Rob works himself to exhaustion.

Nick on the other hand, has no qualms asking the players to do things. His philosophy is that we do so much for the players and have a non-glorious, often times grueling job, that anything they can do to help they should do. He is not afraid to ask a player to clean his locker or throw in his laundry or carry something, and he doesn't really care if they get upset. Since Nick is not looking to do anything in basketball, he has no problems potentially burning bridges because he is not going to be asking anyone in the program for a job. He is a pragmatist and interested in efficiency and his desire to get things done now as opposed to saving them for the last minute, makes him a perfect complement to Rob heading into next season when they are both seniors.

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