I chatted with former Kentucky Wildcat Dale Brown this afternoon about his current job, his life after Kentucky basketball and the experience of wearing the Kentucky uniform. Brown is currently the head basketball coach at Dillard University, an NAIA program in New Orleans. Here is a quick Q&A between myself and Coach Brown:
Coach, can you tell me a little about your current position?
I am currently the head coach at Dillard University, which is back home for me in New Orleans. This is my first head coaching position and I owe a lot of thanks to guys like Tubby Smith, John Pelphrey, Travis Ford, Billy Donovan and Herb Sendek for making calls and serving as good references. I inherited a 5-27 team and in my first season, we improved to 12-18. It has been a struggle as the school is being rebuilt after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina. In fact, we only had 2 scholarships available this season due to financial problems associated with the disaster.
Give me a brief timeline of what you have been doing since your UK career.
My last season at UK was in 1993 and I signed a one-year guaranteed contract with the Sacramento Kings. My mom passed away shortly after I signed the contract and I asked the Kings to allow me to leave training camp to attend her funeral. They refused, I left anyways and I was released. They did pay me the guaranteed contract, but I ended up playing in Greece and France for a couple of years. In 1997, I started coaching in the NBDL. I was an assistant to Randy McCoy at Pikeville College for awhile and then an assistant at Mississippi Gulf Coast CC. After that, I became head coach at Moss Point High School in Mississippi. From there, I landed my current job at Dillard.
You mentioned Pelphrey, Ford and others. Are you still in contact with many of your teammates, coaches and others from Kentucky?
Oh yeah. I have Sean Woods nearby as he is the coach at Mississippi Valley State. I stay in contact with Richie Farmer (he pauses to chuckle a little). That always cracks me up to think of him as the Agricultural Commissioner. I also regularly talk to (Gimel) Martinez, Tony Delk and Tubby a few times a month. Also, Herb Sendek is a good friend.
Dale, what is your greatest memory as a Kentucky Wildcat?
It has to be coming out of that tunnel at Rupp Arena for any game. I'll never forget that unwavering fan support. I've never seen anything like that. My heart will always be in Kentucky. I'll never forget the love they showed me each and every night...just awesome.
In looking back, what does it mean to you now to say that you had the opportunity to wear the Kentucky uniform?
It was great. There is no better program in the country. I'm speechless. You think of Midnight Madness, where you have tons of fans camping out for a week to get in the door. I really thank God for it.
If you had to choose one, who would you say was the most talented Wildcat that you had the opportunity to play with at Kentucky?
Jamal Mashburn. I played with many, but he was the best.
Who was the most talented opponent you played against? Anyone stand out?
I'd have to say Allan Houston. I was labelled the team's defensive stopper and was often left guarding an opponent's most talented player. There was Latrell Sprewell and James "Hollywood" Robinson at Alabama, but I'd say Houston was the best. You know, I held Houston to 1-15 shooting and only 3 points in the last game for me at Rupp Arena. (he chuckles and I reassure him that this is definitely something to be be proud of).
Give me your thoughts on John Calipari as Kentucky's coach.
Great guy. He knows basketball in and out and he's going to get it done right away. He can bring in very talented players and he is able to put them together as a team. He reminds me a lot of Coach Pitino...they have many of the same philosophies. UK fans wil love Calipari's up-tempo style. I love him. Great guy. He was actually my assistant coach in the Junior Olympics.
Back to your current team, I understand that you are hoping to land an exhibition game against Kentucky.
You know, I feel that my team is a good tune-up game for high-level teams. Pelphrey gave us an exhibition last season and we forced them into 24 turnovers. We ended up losing by 24 points, but it was a good tune-up for them. It would be a dream come true for me to return to Rupp as a coach. I talked to Sean Woods and he told me that the feeling was unbelievable during his game against UK. Exhibition games are really our primary source for funding, so it's important for us to play such games. I have talked about playing Arkansas again this season and I'm waiting to hear back from Travis Ford and also Ole Miss. I am hoping to get an opportunity to face Kentucky soon.
How are things shaping up for Dillard heading into the season?
We expect to have a really good season. We used our scholarships to sign a couple of 6'8" guys for the post. We have an excellent backcourt returning. We will be lacking depth. Our big void last season was height and we have addressed that with our available scholarships.
Coach, it has been great talking to you. I appreciate your time and best of luck this season.
Follow Dillard Basketball (ironically enough, they are the Blue Devils)