Scott Sutton now ranks as the longest-tenured basketball coach in ORU history, having just finished his 13th season of revolutionizing the program.
His Golden Eagles teams have posted 204 career victories, and Sutton needs only 11 more to pass Ken Trickey as the school’s all-time coaching wins leader.
Sutton also has earned four Summit League regular-season titles, three NCAA Tournament appearances and one NIT appearance.
Sutton recently sat down with Oracle sports writer Billy Burke to address questions and discuss the season.
Although ORU failed to qualify for this year’s NCAA tournament, Sutton watched with great interest as none of the No. 1 seeds made it to the Final Four.
Q: What did you think were some of the biggest upsets of the NCAA tournament?
A: “I think that VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) over Kansas was the biggest upset; and it may be the biggest upset we’ve seen in college basketball in quite some time.
“[VCU] barely snuck in the tournament and were criticized by ESPN analysts for even making the tournament, and they had a great run.
“Then Butler getting back to the Final Four, getting back to the championship for a school their size. It’s something that hasn’t happened probably in the last 40 or 50 years, probably ever.”
Q: What do you think it would take for ORU to become that next Cinderella team?
A: “I think you have to have the right seed, have the right regular season that gets you an 11th, 12th or 13th seed.
“Then you get the right match-up where you can beat a team from a BCS conference. Then once you win your first game, that second game isn’t as hard.”
Going into next year, the Golden Eagles will have several spots to fill, as Hunter McClintock, Tim Morton and Javier Nasarre are leaving the team. Combined, the trio averaged 11 minutes a game.
Q: How do you think Hunter McClintock and Tim Morton’s departures will affect the team next year?
A: “[I’m] disappointed that things didn’t work out better for both of them. But I don’t think it’ll have a major impact on this team. I think we have enough quality players coming back.”
Q: So what new players will be coming on the team?
A: “We’re giving Mike Magnum [walk-on] a scholarship. He helped us last year when Hunter [McClintock] and Rod [Pearson] both tore their ACL’s. We told him if we redshirt you this year we’ll put you on scholarship.”
Q: What exactly will you be looking to get from this recruiting class?
A: “We’re recruiting right now. This is a big recruiting month. Our biggest need going into this year is a young point guard—someone who can come out and compete against Rod [Pearson] and Ken [Holdman] next year.
But after they leave, someone that we can feel comfortable with turning over the program to.”
Sutton’s numbers speak for themselves, the man can coach. But what makes him so good?
Q: What techniques do you use that you believe make you a good coach?
A:“I think any coach would tell you that you have to have very good players to win games. I feel like we’ve done a very good job at not only bringing in talented kids, but ones with high character.
“Lots of guys are talented, but they’re lazy or selfish and that doesn’t translate into winning basketball games.
“I’ve got a great staff. I feel like they don’t get the credit they deserve. They’ve been as big of a part of this as I have.
“It’s also about building a family atmosphere. [Players] want to play for a coach and coaches that care about them.
I think we’ve done a great job of caring about our players not only while they’re here, but when they leave they’re part of our family forever.”
Rumors of Departure
In the last several weeks, Sutton’s name has been mentioned in connection with open coaching jobs at Missouri and Bradley universities.
Q: There have been reports of you interviewing and being mentioned by other universities as a candidate for coaching replacements. Is that true?
A:“I try not to talk about specific jobs. It’s not fair to anybody involved. But it’s flattering to be involved. When you have success, it’s part of any profession, and when you do a great job, other people
“I’ve had opportunities the last several years to leave ORU, and obviously I haven't done that. I feel like this is a great university. It stands for all the right reasons, and I’ve had amazing support from the administration.
“I’ve always said that it would take a very special opportunity to leave
here. ORU is a very special place.
“I still have the drive and the hunger to make one of those runs in the NCAA tournament, win a game or two to get to the Sweet 16, and I think we can do that.”