Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 28
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
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INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Princeton University assistant men’s basketball coach Scott Greenman, right, confers with Tiger head coach Sydney Johnson in a team huddle. Greenman is currently in Israel serving as the head coach of the U.S. youth basketball team at the 18th Maccabiah Games. The basketball competition is slated to run from July 12-21.

PU Hoops’ Greenman Returning to Israel; Coaching U.S. Team in Maccabiah Games

Bill Alden

Over the last two years, Scott Greenman has soaked up plenty of knowledge, getting into coaching by serving on the staff of the Princeton University men’s basketball team.

“I think I have learned a lot; it is very rewarding,” said Greenman, a former Tiger hoops standout who earned first-team All-Ivy League honors as a senior in the 2005-06 season.

“I enjoy the daily interaction with players. I like helping them improve and seeing them take a jump.”

This month, Greenman is taking a jump into the international arena as he serves as the head coach of the U.S. youth boys’ basketball team at the 18th Maccabiah Games in Israel.

For Greenman, who earned a bronze medal competing on the U.S. open men’s team in the 2005 Maccabiah Games and then played a year for B’nei Ha’sharon in the Israeli pro league, the trip to Israel is a homecoming.

“I love Israel,” asserted Greenman. “It is much different than what you hear or see on the net. I have been in touch with some family members and ex-teammates.”

One of Greenman’s teammate from the 2005 squad, Josh Schachter, played a major role in helping him land the head coaching post.

“Most of the guys on the team were young but one guy Josh Schachter was a little older,” said Greenman.

“Now he heads the U.S. Maccabi youth basketball program. I got to know him real well and he asked me if this is something I would be interested in and it definitely is.”

Greenman is definitely interested to see how he fares in calling the shots for the U.S. team which is comprised of players born in 1991 and 1992.

“One part of coaching is that you always start as an assistant,” explained Greenman, whose team will be joined at the games by around 8,000 athletes from more than 50 countries.

“It is fun to be putting in your own stuff, doing some things the same and doing other things differently. I’ll be the one making the final decisions.”

The decision-making extends beyond the Xs and Os and game strategy.

“It is also a big administrative challenge, taking a group of 17 and 18 year olds to a foreign country and taking care of them,” said Greenman, whose team will be based near Tel Aviv. “You also have to come up with practice plans and travel schedules.”

In preparing for the challenge, Greenman consulted former Princeton assistant coach Howard Levy, who coached the U.S. youth team in the 2005 Maccabiah Games.

“His advice was to play the five best guys,” added Greenman of his chat with Levy, who is now the head coach of the Mercer County Community College men’s team.

“If you don’t have a center, don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. He said to keep it simple. You have a very short amount of time to prepare, you can’t get too complicated. You have to take care of basics, like in-bound plays and things like that.”

The youthful Greenman will also draw on his international experience. “There is a 24-second shot clock and eight seconds to get the ball up,” said Greenman, whose team will compete in preliminary pool play from July 12-16 with the medal round starting on July 20.

“Players can’t call timeouts. You need to move the ball well and get some easy baskets in transition. You are not going to have time to go to option three or four but you also can’t force things too early. On defense, you need to be able to deal with pick and rolls and ball screens.”

For Greenman, dealing with the responsibilities of being a head coach should make him more valuable to Princeton head coach Sydney Johnson and the Tiger program.

“I want to make a career out of this; it is something I think I can be good at,” said Greenman, who works mainly with Princeton’s guards and forwards.

“I am working with great people and that helps. I am excited to come to work everyday. July is a big recruiting month so I’ll miss a lot of that but in the long run it will make me a better coach. Sydney has been very supportive; he knows it is a great opportunity for me.”

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