Coach Stacy Hollowell Interview

Former Qater National Team, Nawaidrat and Manama Club coach, Stacy Hollowell, kindly gave us this interview.

Salawi: Where and which team you are currently coaching/working with?

Coach Stacy: I'm working with a university team in Lithuania called LCC International University. This job was presented to me a while back and I really liked some of the opportunities that it offered. The program is in its infant stages this year, but we're hoping to set it on a successful track for the future.

Salawi: You coached Manama during a difficult period, you signed with them mid season, and you lost your import player due to injury, please share with us your experience during that season?

Coach Stacy: You are right, there was a difficult period there for Manama for a little while and it was interesting to see how they handled adversity. Nooh Najaf is a real professional and he leads by example. He was in the gym when he didn't have to be and he was pushing himself to become the best that he could be. So obviously with his experience combined with the fact that he did work so hard the guys looked up to him and respected him. He was a natural leader and made things a lot easier than they possibly could have been.
Losing Albert Mouring was a huge blow to what we were trying to do. About the time he got injured we had started giving Mohammed Hussein some playing time. The two of them never got a chance to play together for any significant amount of time but it would have been so interesting to see how that combination would have worked together. But to Mohammed's credit he stepped in like a seasoned pro and gave us a huge spark when Albert went down.
I thought Frank Barr played terrificly for us and I don't think that he got the respect in Bahrain that he deserved as a big man. He and Nooh worked together in the mornings. His dedication to the game was very apparent from the beginning. We tried to do some things to get him in a position to get some shots where he felt comfortable and I thought he thrived. In all honesty, getting rid of him for the GCC was a huge mistake. And I should have taken a stronger position with the club to keep him. That is no disrespect to Raymond Hugley at all, but Frank knew our system and he was good at it. Raymond had to learn it on the fly and they are two different kinds of players. It was a hard lesson learned for me as a coach, but one that I won't forget and one that I feel I have grown from. There was a time there for a while when it was questionable as to whether or not we would make the playoffs, especially after we lost Albert. And then the guys bounced back with a big win over Sitra and things started to change a little.
I don't think anybody expected us to play as well as we did against Muharraq in the semi-finals and to be honest I was a little surprised myself. The championship series with Ahli was so emotional with the riot happening after the first game, then Mash hitting Mohammed Hussein for the layup to win game 2 at the buzzer. It was a tough series to lose, but to get there and to play as well as we did being so undersized was a real testament to the courage of the Manama players. I have a lot of respect for all of those guys and I hope they will take leadership roles, as Nooh has, and really help the young guys move forward.
The Manama fans are most memorable. I loved visiting with the kids before the games. The drums and whistles and everything else they brought to make noise made it such a fun environment to play in. There support means so much to the team and really to the whole league. MANAMA!!! HOO...HAA!!! I love that!

Salawi: The fans and players here in Bahrain consider you a "bold" coach, simply because you gave young players more minutes then any other coach in Bahrain, especially Manama coaches, did you feel any pressure in relying on those players?
Coach Stacy: I didn't feel pressure to rely on the young guys at all really because first of all I knew they could play, but more importantly I wasn't in a position where I felt like losing the job was the end of the world. I felt pressure mostly to help re-establish the fan support for the team. Fans would ask before the game if we were going to win and I didn't have an answer for them other than I hope so and we will do our best. But they really care and it means so much to them. I think I've been given a lot of credit that I don't really deserve. The coaches and players who have been a part of developing those young guys deserve the credit. They prepared them to step into the kind of situation that I asked them to perform in. And the kids themselves really deserve a huge amount of credit for the dedication that they've shown to become the players that they are now.
My hope is that they realize that there is no ceiling for them.....that they can always improve and I hope that they keep working hard and develop into first class young men of quality character.

Salawi: I heard that Manama Club offered you to stay but you rejected that offer, any reasons for that?

Coach Stacy: The entire Manama family treated me as if I were one of their own from the very beginning and that made it tough to leave. But they did offer me an opportunity to stay and I rejected it because I really had a desire to coach in Europe. It had nothing to do with the contract offer....they made me a really nice offer and it was tough to say no....but I felt like I needed to move on.

Salawi: You coached two Bahraini teams, Manama and Nawidrat. In general, What is your impression about Basketball in Bahrain?
Coach Stacy: I think there is a nice youth system in place in Bahrain right now that I hope will continue to grow and develop. The young guys are the next generation of the sport there and there is a lot of knowledge in the Bahrain basketball community. There are some really really good coaches there right now and hopefully the federation will tap in to those resources as a way to move the game forward.
I think the first division is probably one of the more competitive leagues from top to bottom. On any given night anybody could beat anybody and that makes it a fun league to be a part of. I sometimes question the level of commitment to the game by some of the local players, but I realize that many of them are forced to have other jobs in order to take care of their families. But from a coaching standpoint it makes it really difficult to build a successful team when guys aren't showing up.
A lot of times that is not taken into account when managers decide to hire and fire coaches. I'd like to see management give more support to their coaches and push the players to handle their responsibilities as athletes. Again, if the clubs were able to pay them a nice wage the situation could be much different. The management at Nuwaidrat is first class and they supported me in every way. It will be nice to watch as their program continues to develop. Picking up Hussein Taqi was a really nice move for them I thought.

Salawi: What are the good & bad memories during your coaching time in Bahrain ?
Coach Stacy: Good Memories.....
1. Mohammed Hussein's layup at the buzzer to win Game 2 of the championship

2. Upsetting Muharraq in our first game at Nuwaidrat
3. Spending time with Manama board members and talking hoops

4. Manama Fans

Bad Memories.....

1. The riot after Game 1 of the championship

2. Losing Albert for the year

3. Losing Frank for the GCC

Salawi: If you had the opportunity to coach Bahrain National Team, name the players that you would select for your team?
Coach Stacy: This is a good question and this is strictly my opinion. The better question is who does the Bahrain National Team coach select for his team, but these are guys that I would give a chance to make the team.
  • Hussein Shaker
  • Hussein Taqi
  • Mohammed Najaf
  • Nooh Najaf
  • Ahmed Mutawa
  • Mash
  • Mohammed al-Derazi
  • Mohammed Qurban
  • Hanni Alam
  • Ahmed Mirza
  • Khadem Majid
I'm probably leaving some guys out that I shouldn't be, but I'd try to get Rashun and Akin back on the team to give it some size. And I'd probably bring Hassan and Ahmed along from Manama to give them experience.

What are the actions that the Bahrain Basketball Association should take to develop Basketball in Bahrain?
Coach Stacy: It would be nice to see the clubs raise funds to pay the players a better salary. I think this would create competition for positions and more loyalty to the game from the players. I don't think there is anything that can be done about the lack of size in Bahrain unless you want to naturalize guys which I think would help.
I think the use of a video editing program is a huge teaching tool and gives teams an unbelievable competitive advantage over their opponent. If Dartfish or SportsTech could be made available to the clubs or at least the national team you would see some growth. The federation has done a nice job putting a development program in place for the youth. Give credit to Coach Salman for his success in putting that program together.
Thanks for thinking of me and for taking the time to put these questions together. Please say hi to the Manama and Nuwaidrat guys for me. I wish them all the best.

We wish coach Stacy all the best in his upcoming challenges, and thank him for this valuable interview.

1 Responses to “Coach Stacy Hollowell Interview”

  1. # Anonymous Dee

    All The Best Stacy,



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