Strickland bringing competitiveness, culture to LIU basketball

Strickland bringing competitiveness, culture to LIU basketball
Former NBA player Rod Strickland was named as Long Island University's new men's basketball head coach last month. (Photo courtesy of Thirty Ink)

Rod Strickland, the longtime NBA point guard and new Long Island University men’s basketball coach, said his goal for the Sharks going forward is to create a culture and competitive environment during an interview with Blank Slate Media.

Strickland, who was named the Sharks’ new head coach last month, was a first-round pick by the New York Knicks in 1988 and spent 17 years in the NBA.

Despite it being a “dream” for Strickland to return home to New York, coaching was not always on his radar when he was playing in the league.

“I wasn’t really thinking past playing in the NBA,” Strictland said. “But once my career was over with, I realize I wanted to start coaching.”

Following his retirement in 2005, he became the director of basketball operations at the University of Memphis. He then served in an administrative role at the University of Kentucky under legendary head coach John Calipari before becoming an assistant coach at the University of South Florida.

“Over the years I’ve gained a lot of experience and learned about relationships, about people and basically how to lead,” Strickland said.

In 2018, after his variety of collegiate roles, Strickland was hired by the G-League, the NBA’s developmental league, to serve as director for its’ professional path program. Developing players on and off the court, he said, is one of the aspects he is most looking forward to continuing as LIU’s new head coach.

“I think that experience in the G-League helped me grow so much,” Strickland said. “Getting those high school players that had these dreams of becoming NBA players and watching them grow in a year was great. For us to be a part of that development on and off the court, it was a great feeling.”

G-League President and former NBA All-Star Shareef Abdur-Rahim lauded Strickland’s work in recruiting and obtaining the necessary assets to put the league’s players in the best position to succeed, wishing him the best in his next steps.

“Rod has done a tremendous job as program director for NBA G League Ignite, from leading our recruiting efforts to aiding in the development of our young players, including six NBA Draft picks in the last two seasons,” Abdur-Rahim said in a statement. “We wish him the best with Long Island University. LIU is getting an amazing person and great basketball man.”

Strickland replaces former LIU head coach Derek Kellogg, who spent five years at the helm, leading the team to a 74-74 record and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2018 after winning the Northeast Conference Tournament. The Sharks are coming off a 16-14 regular season, going 12-6 in conference play.

LIU’s newest head coach said that fans and opponents can expect a competitive, fast-paced team willing to work hard and play together every time they touch the court.

“I think from there we’ll win some games, but this is really all about relationships with the guys we have,” Strickland said. “It’s all about getting these young guys to understand the work it takes and the dedication to study up the game.”

Strickland attended DePaul University in Chicago from 1985-887, averaging 16.6 points and 6.4 assists per game. A three-time All-American, Strickland helped lead the Blue Demons to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances at Depaul. 

During his NBA career, Strickland played for nine franchises tallying more than 14,000 points and nearly 8,000 assists. Strickland was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie team during the 1988-89 season, but his best year came as a member of the Washington Wizards where he averaged nearly 18 points and more than 10 assists per game and was named to the All-NBA Second Team.

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