Coaching Suffolk County Community College women’s basketball team since 1994, Kevin Foley has emphasized essential qualities and has worked to embed in his teams.
“There’s a difference,” Foley said, “between playing basketball and wanting to be a basketball player.”
One distinction, he said, is someone who plays just to play the sport and the other one is fully immersed in the culture of basketball and continuously emerges themselves in it.
Foley, who was a guard for Seton Hall University, where he was named captain his senior year, averaging 14 points and 4 rebounds per game, also was a star high school basketball player on Long Island.
His experience has helped him lead the SCCC women’s team to the regional playoffs every year since coming on board. Foley’s teams have won six regional championships and one national title.
The women’s team finished the 2019-2020 season with a 15-10 overall record.
“Coach Foley really knows what he is doing,” said Lindsey Devine, the team’s captain and a sophomore. “He really focuses on the little things and the fundamentals of the game.”
Those fundamentals include how to properly box out, pass, and ball handling. Without the fundamentals being secure, nothing can be built on top of them.
“We learned how important communication really is in this game,” Devine said. “Because you should constantly be talking to one another on the court.”
A quiet team is a losing team, Foley said.
“Being a freshman, I held back from saying a lot on and off the court,” Katie Brown, a freshman guard, said about how communication has led to team wins. “After two months into the season is when I really started to feel comfortable and I felt that I could communicate better with my teammates during games and in practice.”
“I don’t care if you are a blabbermouth or the most shy person in the world,” Foley said. “When you’re on a court, you have to talk. You have to be engaged verbally. And if you’re not engaged verbally, usually don’t do too well.”
Foley said it is not only important to train and practice, but to also watch and study the game. However, there is a limit. Playing too much does more damage than good to any player.
After covering the essentials that are non-skill attributed, Foley said coaching was essentially being a teacher. As long as the players were willing to learn, he’d always be able to teach.
“When you walk into this gym, it becomes the classroom,” Foley said. “To teach things that I’ve learned and you pass them on, whatever else it may be. Everybody can grow and enhance themselves in terms of how they see themselves and how they feel about themselves. I always use the phrase, but I think this is the greatest game.”