This is the second installment in a series of Q&A’s with DI basketball support staffers. Davidson College Director of Basketball Operations Abe Woldeslassie was our first contributor last week – you can read his Q&A HERE. Hopefully this series can be helpful for young coaches trying to climb the coaching ladder.
This edition is with Grand Canyon University DBO Luke DallaRiva:
What is your title? How long have you been in your current position?
This is my second year as the Director of Basketball Operations at GCU.
Where did you attend college?
I went to the University of San Diego. I didn’t know it when I got there, but USD has a really rich tradition of coaches in college and the NBA and a lot of NBA front office personnel as well. It’s not something I expected when I went to school there, but it’s definitely nice to know that there is a lot of tradition to try and live up to.
Where have you coached previously?
Before I got to GCU, I was a grad assistant at Kent State and had a great experience there. I appreciate all the staff over there because they really helped me learn how to be a DBO before I even got the job. Coach Sendy taught me to try and always have stuff prepared before Coach even asks for it and Mike is flat-out one of the best in the business as a DBO. Before that I spent some time at IMG Academy learning from NBA Trainer Dan Barto and Coach John Mahoney also. Prior to that I was a high school assistant at St. Augustine in San Diego and was lucky to spend time with Coach Mike Haupt (who won state coach of the year) on the way to a state championship in 2013.
Why did you choose Grand Canyon / how did you get your job?
I got really lucky and was actually visiting Phoenix when I saw the job post on HOOPDIRT! I did some research immediately and saw that our Associate Head Coach, Todd Lee, coached at University of San Diego and immediately tried to use that to connect with him. After I was able to get connected with Coach Lee, I started researching Coach Majerle and the school as much as possible. It would have been impossible to pass up an opportunity like this one; Coach Majerle is obviously and NBA legend who has been successful at every stop along the way. He made the playoffs in 13 of 14 seasons in the NBA, was a 3-time All Star, played in the Olympics and on Dream Team 2 and those are just some of his playing career highlights. He was successful as an assistant in the NBA and in his business ventures off the court as well. Coach Lee won over 150 games as a head coach at Kentucky Wesleyan so the opportunity to learn from both of them has been really unique for me. Throw in Mr. Colangelo’s influence with not only our team but also with the direction of the school and it was impossible to pass up on joining great coaches in the process of building a great program while the school itself is growing into a nationally recognized name because of the great things going on here.
What are some of your responsibilities in your current role?
I handle all of the off-the-court responsibilities from our program and it’s pretty wide-ranging here. I work as the liaison to a lot of different departments around campus ranging from academic support to compliance to facilities/scheduling and everything in between. Each day here is different because I find myself working on new projects and it’s great to be able to learn a lot about a lot of different areas in college athletics while I’m in this role.
Any advice for young coaches looking to enter college athletics?
I think there are three really big things to getting in college athletics. The first is that you’ve got to be willing to put yourself out there and try to meet as many people as you can find. You can learn from everyone in the business and expanding your network is hugely important. The second is to find great mentors. I mentioned a couple of mine above and those are coaches that I still ask a lot of questions and try to learn from; it’s really helped that they are connected and have relationships with other coaches so I’m still trying to reach out and expand my network myself! Third — get on HoopDirt! There’s no better place to get information about coaches, job postings, etc. and hopefully it’s a place you can get started!