It would be an understatement to say that Joseph Price's first year as a head coach didn't go as well as he had planned.
Besides inheriting a Grambling State University roster from a team which had won only four games in 2011-12, Price and his staff were unable to overcome a late start on the recruiting trail. Those were only the beginning of the Tigers' woes. When Grambling lost both of its point guards — one to a season-ending injury, one to suspension from the university — before the 2012-13 campaign tipped off, Price realized the Tigers were in for a long season.
“We had a couple of unfortunate situations with our point guards that hurt our team chemistry,” Price said Thursday, while making a stop in Bastrop to visit with the Morehouse Parish Chapter of the GSU Alumni Association. “I knew we were going to have a tough year.”
Make that extremely tough. A season-ending 59-51 SWAC Tournament loss to Alabama A&M left the Tigers at 0-28 — the only winless team in Division I basketball.
Obviously, there's nowhere to go but up. Still, Price believes the program is on the upswing.
To begin with, Price established a solid foundation with his first recruiting class. Terry Rose was the Tigers' lone bright spot last season, earning SWAC Freshman of the Year honors after leading the team in scoring (13.7).
Chandler Thomas from Maryland-Baltimore County and Antwon Scott from Idaho are eligible after sitting out last season under the NCAA's transfer rule.
“Looking at our (first) recruiting class, we didn't get the results through the record, but it was a positive situation with the transfers and the SWAC Freshman of the Year,” Price said. “Though we had a tough year, we're looking forward to making tremendous progress this season.”
Furthermore, Price expects immediate help from this year's crop of signees, a group while includes 5-11 point guard Chase Cormier from Milford Mills (Md.) High School and Fishburne (Va.) Military School, 6-3 wing Remond Brown from Richwood, 6-8 forward Richard Freeman from Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central HS, 6-9 center/forward Windale Glinton from Boca Raton (Fla.) Grand View Prep and A.J. Shine from Southern-Shreveport Community College by way of Minden HS.
“I am very excited about our incoming freshmen,” Price said.
Cormier, Brown and Glinton all played for state championship teams during their high school careers.
Page 2 of 2 - “First and foremost, I want to recruit kids with character,” Price said. “I want to recruit winners; kids who are passionate and kids with a lot of pride. It's all about getting kids who are the right fit for our program.”
Though it was a painful process, Price says gaining a year of experience has made him a better head coach.
“I think experience always helps,” Price said. “As you go through a challenging season, you grow as an individual and as a coach.
“My past coaching experience helped me to stay positive and endure the tough nights after a loss. I went through the same type of situation at Ball State where we had to rebuild a program. That experience helped me stay focused through last season.”
A product of Marion (Ind.) High School, Price signed with Notre Dame. Following his senior season with the Fighting Irish, Price was selected in the seventh round of the NBA draft by the Washington Bullets (now Wizards). He went on to play 13 years overseas with stops in France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain. Among his professional highlights, Price helped St. Prex (Switzerland) to a league championship and was a teammate of Dallas Mavericks' star Dirk Nowitzki for DJK S. Oliver Wurzburg, while playing in Germany.
Upon returning to the States in 2001, Price accepted his first coaching position as head junior varsity coach at Indianapolis Manuel HS.
He began his college coaching career at IUPUI in 2002, followed by stints at Ball State, Morehead State and Lamar. Price coached in the NCAA Tournament while with IUPUI, Morehead State and Lamar. During his only season at Morehead State (2010-11), the Eagles upset Louisville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
A year later, he joined Pat Knight's staff at Lamar, helping the Cardinals win the Southland Conference Tournament and an automatic NCAA Tournament bid.