What makes a coach great? For many, a coach is considered great if they win multiple championships. For others, coaches are considered great by their set of skills and abilities to help a team succeed in not only winning, but also helping players become better people.
Coach Todd Raridon, the head coach of the men’s basketball team at North Central, has achieved a milestone of winning 205 games, more than any other men’s basketball coach in North Central’s history.
Winning, or in this case, breaking the record for the most career wins by a North Central coach, was not his ultimate goal. Creating a basketball program that makes North Central’s basketball team as successful as it can be is his end game. That means not only winning games, but also winning NCAA championships.
Coach Raridon’s success is easy to see: he lead the Cardinals to the NCAA Division III Final Four in the 2013 basketball season, where the team lost to Amherst College. He believed that if they had moved on to the final championship match, the Cardinals would have won the NCAA 2013 Men’s Basketball tournament.
One of the team’s biggest expectations is that they continue to improve in practices. What is improved in practice can also be linked to how players perform in games. Currently, the team is young in terms of playing together, but the focus of the team remains on its defense.
With great defense come opportunities for teams to have a good offense. There were not a lot of full-court presses, or any presses for that matter during the previous games in the 2016 season, in which we can assume that the team had a vigorous defense.
In terms of coaching, nothing has changed. He has been here for 11 years; he started coaching the basketball team during the 2004-2005 season. The only aspect that Coach Raridon believes that has changed is that he has gone softer since he started coaching – which his players would gladly disagree with.
How does the team stay together? “Senior leadership, or upper-classmen leadership,” said Raridon. Teams are known to be stronger and perform better when the bonds between players are robust. That can happen when there are leaders in the team providing the glue.
A lot of basketball championships, not only in the NCAA, but also in other tournaments, are won by teams which have a strong leader on the court and when the bonds between players are resilient.
Even with the regular season finishing up soon, Raridon believes that the team should work on fundamentals to improve their skills and overall performance. He also believes that North Central will do well in their conference; their biggest obstacle in the CCIW so far is against Augustana College, which gave the Cardinals their only two losses in the CCIW.