Tom Anastos takes lessons from MSUâ€™s other coaches
Going from CCHA commissioner to a head coach at a major university can be a daunting experience, particularly when the new hire is a former player at said university and is expected to swiftly turn the program in the right direction.
Luckily for him, he has a few people he can talk to regarding what to expect as a first-year coach at Michigan State.
Anastos did just that after he was hired by athletic director Mark Hollis, mentioning that he met with menâ€™s basketball coach Tom Izzo, womenâ€™s basketball coach Suzy Merchant and football coach Mark Dantonio. Aside from becoming friendly with his coaching companions, Anastos learned some other tidbits about what to expect as the leader of a Spartans team.
When asked by a reporter what he learned the most from the decorated group of leaders, he joked and simply said â€œwin.â€ But itâ€™s not really a joke at all; more like a mission of fulfilling expectations at a high level in a notoriously good conference.
Because, whether you like it or not, coaches are expected to take programs to pedestals higher than when they first arrived. Itâ€™s ultimately about wins and losses and coaches are the first people to get the rugs pulled out from under them if the program is going in the wrong direction and banners are not being hung from the rafters. Is it fair? It really depends on the situation â€“ the university, the athletic director, the patience of the fans, etc.
But thatâ€™s part of my point: Anastos seems to be already grasping what he needs to do in order to focus on the success of the program and take his team to new heights. And that is to ignore almost everyone on the outside.
â€œI think all of (the coaches) have been consistent in telling me to be true in what you believe in,â€ Anastos said. â€œWhatever that might be for whatever the sport is, be true to your beliefs. Be careful to listen to the noise and be persuaded, which is, for me â€¦ it kind of fits in.â€
He said he compares the outside noise of fan overreaction and media criticism to being a father of five children and only paying attention to the things which really matter and have an impact on the family. He said â€œyou have to maintain your focus.â€
With his current coaching staff possessing decades of years of experience, and the presence of winners in the Michigan State coaching tree, Anastos has a good group of people to talk to and learn from. That type of invaluable knowledge is essential to getting over the hump and becoming a winner.