Scott Flemming, who spent the past two years as an assistant coach of the NBDL side Texas Legends, has been appointed as head coach of India’s Men’s National Basketball team. Flemming takes charge of the ‘Young Cagers’ following Kenny Natt.
Flemming was hired by the NBA side Dallas Mavericks to work as an assistant for their affiliate National Basketball Development League (NBDL) team Texas Legends from the 2010-11 season. Flemming has spent 19 years as Head Coach of Mount Vernon Nazarene University (MVNU) men’s basketball coach and 20 years as the school’s athletic director.
Flemming has coached at the NCAA Division 1, Division 3, NAIA Division 2, and the professional level. He has 22 years of experience coaching in college in America, and holds a 440-273 record. He has been named NAIA Coach of the Year. Flemming has also played basketball at the High School and NAIA Division 1 level.
“I had been looking for another head coaching position, another opportunity to not only do what I love to do but to make a difference, when this was presented to me,” Flemming said. “The more I looked into it, the more interested I became. It’s really a chance to develop basketball at a grassroots level, and their national programme over there is very committed to getting better. With my background and with what I’ve done, it’s a good fit.”
India will be competing in the 2012 FIBA Asia Cup, which will be held in Tokyo from September 14-22. It’s unclear at this point if Flemming will take the helm of the team from this tournament, because FIBA Asia recently mentioned that veteran Indian coach KK Chansoria will be leading India to Japan.
Flemming takes over after former NBA Head Coach Kenny Natt, who spent approximately 14 months as the Head Coach of India’s Senior Men’s squad. Natt was hired as the basketball director at the IMG Basketball Academy in Florida last month. IMG has an tie-in with Indian conglomerate Reliance to sponsor the Basketball Federation of India (BFI). Flemming will be the third American coach for India’s Senior Men in the last three years, following Bill Harris and Natt.
So what can we expect? Unlike the previous hiring of Natt which was announced with much panache and optimism, there has been little or no hype leading up to Flemming’s appointment. Natt’s tenure in India – which brought about so much promise of a revolution – ended with an underwhelming whimper (although, he is officially still supposed to remain connected with India’s national basketball programme). Flemming doesn’t have the NBA experience that Natt did, but perhaps it’s a better idea to start afresh with someone who has more experience dealing with college-level and developing players instead of big superstars.
Despite all the ‘big name’ coaching assignments in India over the past few years, there has been little or no improvement in India’s final standings on the Asian level. Natt can be credited for helping boost up India’s junior and youth development systems, but he may not be able to experience the next generation of players who help India rise up to the next level. That job, for now, lies in the hands of Flemming.
The revolution will not happen overnight, and improvement in both the quality of India’s national team and the structure of India’s basketball federation will happen in baby steps. While the hype may help sell newspapers, what Indian basketball really needs is results. Let’s hope that Flemming can help bring about those results and help basketball in India achieve its potential.