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The Spoofhound Way - Mike Kuwitzky

The Spoofhound Way - Mike Kuwitzky

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Published by Jason Lawrence

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Published by: Jason Lawrence on Nov 28, 2011
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11/28/2011

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By Jason LawrenceAsst. Sports Editor Headline: The Spoofhound Way: Mike Kuwitzky did it his way and landed a spot in theHall of Fame
Sitting on the couch at a quarter to 11 p.m., watching basketball scores roll across the television screen, is not a timewhen most people would expect to hear news of the biggesthonor of their own basketball career.It is fitting, though, that Maryville head boys’ basketballcoach Mike Kuwitzky found out that he had been elected tothe 2011 class of the Missouri Basketball Coaches AssociationHall of Fame in this exact manner.“It’s a huge honor. It means a lot,” Kuwitzky said. “It’ssomething that I’m so proud and appreciative of. It’ssomething I never felt I was worthy or deserving of, it’s notcrossed my mind. I was surprised when I heard about it. It’sstill soaking in.”Kuwitzky knew he wanted to coach early on after strivingduring his youth to make the Lincoln (Neb.) Northeast basketball team.“It had a rich history in sports, but particularly basketball,” Kuwitzky said. “You were raised with your P.E.teachers and your basketball coaches gearing you toward oneday playing for the Rockets.”He made that team and won a state title, only furtheringhis interest in basketball.“My goals were fulfilled as a youth,” Kuwitzky said. “Allthose years spent were rewarded and I just wanted to carry iton, to go into coaching to be in that same kind of atmosphere.”
 
After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and working for former Huskers coach Moe Iba,Kuwitzky was just looking for an opportunity back in 1986.Maryville High School gave him that chance after severalcandidates before him turned down the job.“There were quite a few people that turned it down because they thought that it might not be a place that was idealfor winning at that particular time,” Kuwitzky said. “I’mfortunate and glad now that they did.”It took eight years to get the program competitive at thedistrict and state levels, but 1994 ushered in Kuwitzky’s firstdistrict and sectional title as well as Maryville’s firstappearance in the state Final Four in 35 years.“That was huge in town, that was so exciting,” Kuwitzkysaid. “That probably sticks out as the most memorablemoment, getting to that first Final Four.”He planned to bring some consistency to Maryville andthen move on to bigger jobs and better opportunities, but whenthose offers came, Kuwitzky just could not leave the programthat he had turned around.“I planned to come in, try to build a program, and then Ithought I’d move on,” Kuwitzky said. “I thought I’d move upthe coaching ladder to some bigger schools…I thought thatwas always going to be the process.“That’s not the way it happened. I’ve had some goodopportunities that I’ve turned down over the years to stay…Alot of factors outweighed the opportunities.” Now, here he is, 25 years older and 438 victories later, on
 
the verge of being inducted into the Hall of Fame.Savannah head coach Nick Kemerling, along withMaryville Athletic Director Paul Snow, nominated Kuwitzkyafter facing his teams for nine years as the Savage’s coach and playing against Kuwitzky-coached teams during his own highschool years.“There isn’t anyone that knows anything about basketballthat doesn’t respect what Coach Kuwitzky has done here inMaryville,” Kemerling said.The Spoofhounds did it Kuwitzky’s way and never wavered to all the outside input and the changing styles of thegame.“When you get into big games, our style of play works,”Kuwitzky said. “You get down there and people want thatstyle to change, but then they see what we’re doing and thesuccess we have and say ‘Well, I guess it’s not too bad.’“I think that’s what I’m the most proud of, that I’ve beenable to do it my way. I’ll listen to the suggestions, but I’ve stillstayed with my core principles and beliefs.”The ’Hounds run a pressure man-to-man defense and amotion offense based on the systems of Kuwitzky’s highschool coach, Iba, and legendary college coaches JohnWooden and Bob Knight.“The best thing about coaching against Maryville is thatyou know exactly what they’re going to do. They’re not a hardteam to scout,” Kemerling said. “That also tells you what kindof coach he is because you know what they’re going to do, butthere isn’t much you can do about it.”

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