New era begins for Kingman Academy boys basketball

Fundamentals, up tempo, and defense to be Devincenzi's signature

SHAWN BYRNE/Miner<BR>
Kingman Academy’s new basketball coach Brian Devincenzi keeps his eye on Friday’s practice. The Tigers open the season Nov. 23 at Kingman.

SHAWN BYRNE/Miner<BR> Kingman Academy’s new basketball coach Brian Devincenzi keeps his eye on Friday’s practice. The Tigers open the season Nov. 23 at Kingman.

KINGMAN - Brian Devincenzi patrolled the courts in Australia during the 1982-83 National Basketball League season with former NBA player Owen Wells for the Sydney Supersonics. More than 30 years later, Devincenzi now paces the sideline for the Kingman Academy boys basketball team.

"I should have been doing this a long time ago," Devincenzi said. "This is my love."

Three seasons in the NBL, one with Sydney and two with the Adelaide 36ers, was all Devincenzi could play after he suffered his second knee injury. Soon after he had back surgery, he moved with his parents to Kingman in 1986 and has lived here ever since.

It's not a typical resume for a 54-year-old coach. Devincenzi did some coaching with the 18-and-unders in Adelaide and spent time assisting a high school girls team when he played at Weber State while he nursed his first knee injury.

"I hurt my knee my sophomore year against Danny Ainge and BYU," he said. "I assisted with the time I had and just fell in love with it."

It's enough for KAHS principal Jeff Martin, who was instrumental in bringing in Devincenzi after Bryant Morrison moved his family to South Carolina after leading the Tigers for three years.

Devincenzi's niece, Annalee Johnson, graduated KAHS last spring and was a manager for the boys team during her four years of high school. She kept bugging her uncle to help out until he finally did toward the end of last season. Then the head coaching job opened up.

"Brian brings a lot of experience from different levels," Martin said. "I just think he brings a good, fundamentally sound brand of basketball, and he's excited about it. He's eager to dig in and make it a commitment."

One of leading reasons Martin had for choosing Devincenzi is the willingness to want to be around for a while. Devincenzi has resided in Kingman nearly 30 years, so it seems safe to say he won't be looking to move on.

"Brian wants to build a program, rather than just a team," Martin said. "He wants to see us develop over the summers and help our younger programs at the middle school."

Devincenzi has begun to install his style of play with the Tigers, and he's enthralled with the buy-in from the players. He wants his squad to get out and run while having a solid grasp of the fundamentals, such as grabbing a rebound and knowing how to get the fast break going. Devincenzi also stresses playing an energized defense.

"These kids are committed," the coach said. "We spent the last month before the season started doing extensive conditioning. Last Friday, they ran five miles in under 35 minutes. They have stepped up to an above-normal level of commitment."

Expect the Tigers to run a motion offense without the traditional roles on the floor, much like the Golden State Warriors' model.

"I don't believe that there are point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards and centers," Devincenzi said. "If you can have five skilled players out there and can still defend the center position, you are going to be successful. I want the kids to learn how to move and play all the positions."

Devincenzi's first regular season game is Nov. 23 at Kingman High, a perfect opponent to get his coaching career started. Martin is delighted to have him leading the Tigers onto the floor.

"He's a great communicator, and I believe he'll be a great addition to our Academy family," the principal said. "He really knows how to teach the kids without having to bring them down. He cares about the kids. He's positive and upbeat."