Q&A: New Mountain Vista boys basketball coach Brian Wood reflects on his journey

Smoky Hill Mountain Vista boys basketball

(Marlee Smith/CHSAANow.com)

Brian Wood used to drive his opponents crazy when he was playing basketball at Buena Vista High School.

There was no doubt that Wood was the best player on the floor in each game that he played. By the time he was done, he was the career scoring leader in Colorado history. That record has since been broken by Akron's Brady Baer, but Wood's 2,551 will always be challenging for even the best players in the state to match.

After his collegiate career at Akron and Colorado State University-Pueblo had concluded, Wood found himself still tied to basketball. In 2008, Wood joined his father, Bob, who had become the coach at Mountain Vista High School.

After playing for Bob at Buena Vista, Brian now worked with him and the two continued a long-storied connection through basketball.

Last week Bob stepped down as the coach of the Golden Eagles. The job went to Brian. Bob plans on sticking around and remaining on staff, but from here on out one of the most prolific players in state history will be calling the shots for the first.

He chatted with CHSAANow.com about everything ranging from playing under his father to now being the guy who calls all the shots.

Question: What has it been like to grow into this role and to be able to do it next to your dad?

Wood: It's been a lot of fun. I've had some chances where other schools wanted me to interview and I thought that I'm probably not going to look back at the end of my life and think that I should've been a head coach earlier. More like I'm going to look back and be thankful for the time we got to spend together.

This has always been my dream to be the head coach at Mountain Vista and have my dad working with me. I'm pretty excited.

Q: So much of your basketball life - from Buena Vista when you were playing to coaching with him at Mountain Vista. I know he'll be right there with you but is there a part of you that's either excited for scared that you're taking the reins and making this your journey?

Rangeview Mountain Vista boys basketball

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Wood: I'm definitely excited, I don't think I'm scared at all. Since I've started working with him it's been kind of an associate head coach situation. I think it'll be similar with him sitting in the other seat.

I think the biggest difference is that when there's a minute left in the game and we call timeout or there's 20 seconds left, there was a chance I was going to be in the middle of the huddle, now I'm definitely going to be there. I'm excited to put my fingerprint on it. I don't think a lot will change from a basketball perspective, we believe a lot of the same things and we've adjust to some of the stuff I really like here at Mountain Vista.

We've changed and adapted with the times and all that. We're pretty in line basketball-wise, I might change some things we do in the offseason and stuff like that.

Q: How is Brian Wood the basketball coach at Mountain Vista different from the Brian Wood the player who set records at Buena Vista?

Wood: I think the game has changed a lot. I think of some of the things I've done very well as a basketball player have been validated and used with advanced metrics. I pretty much shot 3-pointers, layups and free throws and everyone was talking about how the mid-range game had died. Then I came to be validated by all the statistics that what I was doing was actually pretty effective and that panned out for the course of my career.

As a coach it's different. I'm way more nervous coaching than playing because I have less of a hand in how it goes. Coaching is just releasing the kids into the game and hope they can do what you've prepared them to do. I think by the time you're 37 you gain a lot of perspective. I think basketball was way more important to 18-year-old Brian Wood than it is to 37-year-old Brian Wood.

I'm excited to work with kids and keep doing what I'm doing and just be the guy.

Q: You're only one of a handful of guys to eclipse 2,000 career points. How much of that can be coached, taught and developed and how much of it is relying on pure skill?

Wood: I think as a coach, the fact that I could play and can still play from time to time lends me a bit of validity. I think the kids are more apt to listen if you could play.

I don't think that's fair because I know some great coaches that weren't great players. One of my college coaches was a great coach but he wasn't a great player.

I think it lends some validity though, especially if you can transfer those skills. My No. 1 skill was knowledge of the game so I think that some of that can transfer if you can be around kids for four years.

I think the one thing I found that isn't transferable is the skill had to be able to draw fouls. That had a lot to do with physicality and my body type and how I was built. That is not something I've figured out how to coach kids on. But I think knowledge of the game, I think I tend to see things a step ahead of what some people do, I think you can help kids to get that point.

Obviously having talent and being good basketball players helps. The fact that people think we haven't been very talented and we've done pretty well means people aren't very good at recognizing what it means to be good at basketball. We've never been physically dominant, but we've had really good players and those players have been able to take things we teach and the way we see the game and take it and make it their own.

Q: What's the biggest challenge of coaching high school basketball in 2019?

Wood: It's multi-faceted, but I think the combination of shortened attention spans and parent involvement. In a place like Highlands Ranch you have parents that are really hyper-involved in academics and athletics. For the most part, I think that's a great thing. I would rather be dealing with that problem than one where parents weren't at anything or didn't care how they did in school and sports.

I think a lot of times a kid knows exactly where he is and parents don't. Sometimes that's challenging. I also think the club culture is challenging. If you're paying someone $5,000 to $10,000 they're mostly going to tell you good things whereas we try to tell them the truth.

The lack of attention, the parent involvement and sometimes we live in a society where you get things right away.

I still think we get great kids. Last year was as fun as we've had in any year of basketball. We had great kids and great parents. Challenges exist but I like the good stuff better than the hard stuff otherwise I wouldn't have done what I just did.

Q: How are you like your dad the most and how do you guys differ?

Wood: I'm the most like him that we're both passionate and driven and emotional. I'm different from him in the sense that he's a little more old school in how he deals with his players.

I'm a little more relational. You're never going to see me yell at a kid individual or if you do, it'll be really rare. From him it's more of a regular thing. I think if I get upset, I'll direct it more toward a group. That's probably the biggest difference but there are definitely more similarities than differences to be honest.

Mountain Vista Rangeview boys basketball

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