PLNU’s assistant athletic director for communications, Danny Barnts, sat down with new head men’s basketball coach Matt Logie to learn about what’s next for PLNU’s program, his transition to serving as head coach, and his coaching philosophy.
Danny Barnts: What can Sea Lions expect to see from the basketball team on and off the court?
Matt Logie: When I’m asked to describe my coaching philosophy or the culture of our program, what I always come back to is family. I want our players to develop really deep relationships with one another, with our coaching staff, with my own family. This is not a job for me; this is my life. So I hope that the deep and rich investment to our players and staff and our campus community is what people see on the floor when they come to watch a game. We are representing something that is much bigger than “me” here at Point Loma.
DB: What do you do in the process of “re-recruiting” the players, in order for them to feel welcome to your program?
Logie: It comes down to building relationships. The core values of our basketball family are all designed to build deep relationships, and those values are trust, love, and commitment. So, you start off by trying to build trust with those guys. Fortunately, when I got here, a number of the players were familiar with me being in the Northwest, where some of our guys are from. For the others, you build that trust through your resume and then understanding that you have a track record. Ultimately, it comes down to spending time with them and providing them with the knowledge and appreciation that you really care about them achieving their goals. Building that trust is the first step. I think over time, the richness of those relationships are really valuable in the day to day grind of what college athletics is. It’s the battles that you fight together on the court, in practice, and the things you overcome off the court. It’s a matter of being there for those guys and helping them to understand that we’re going to be here for life.
DB: Speaking of your resume, can you talk to us about your playing career?
Logie: My basketball story really starts from birth. I was born into a basketball family. My grandfather was a high school basketball coach for 49 years in the state of Washington. So growing up in his gym as a young camper [and] a ball boy for his teams, the travel teams of our community [and] the players that I grew up around that were older than me really became mentors and role models for me at a young age. They shaped my playing career, and in many ways stoked the fire to become a coach one day. I had a chance to play for my grandfather in high school, and we won two state championships. I was then presented with the opportunity to play NCAA Division I basketball at Lehigh University [in Philadelphia]. That experience was very formational in my coaching philosophy, but as a player, much of what I believe about the game goes back to my years at Mercer Island [High School] and the lessons that my grandfather instilled in me.
DB: How successful were you at Lehigh?
Logie: Individually, I had a chance to accomplish almost every goal I set for myself. In many ways I even exceeded what I thought possible for myself and what many people thought I was capable of doing at that level. I started for all four years and was a three-time all-conference player. I scored over 1,500 points and set the school’s 3-point record. So individually I couldn’t have been more satisfied with my playing career. As a team, we really struggled for three-quarters of my career. The program didn’t have a lot of tradition when I got there, and I think we lost more games by Christmas my freshmen year than I think I had lost in my high school career combined. So it was a culture shock, but it made me stronger, and it made me appreciate how difficult it is to win at a high level. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to play for two different coaching staffs, and so I’ve been through a coaching transition, and that allowed me to finish my career on a really positive note. My junior year we were 5-23, lost 18 games in a row at one point. We went through the coaching change my junior spring, and then my senior year we were 16-12, with most of the same guys we had the year before. That was the second largest turnaround in D1 that season. That experience to be able to go out on a positive note and leave the program better than we found it was a nice way to put a ribbon on my career and was a big factor in opening up the door for me to get into coaching at Lehigh upon graduation. My first year of coaching we went to the NCAA tournament. We won 20 games, and I got to see the full culmination of that turnaround at Lehigh take place. That was a really magical experience for me because I had invested so much in the program as a student-athlete, and to see my teammates hold up the championship trophy and to participate in March Madness was a very exciting way to enter the coaching profession.
DB: After coaching at LeHigh, you became head coach at Whitworth University. What are the biggest lessons you learned there that you are going to bring here to PLNU?
Logie: The first thing I’m going to take away from my first eight years as a head coach is believing in your vision. When I came to Whitworth, it was with the idea of going back to my roots in the Northwest. I was trying to create an environment similar to the one I experienced at Mercer Island, in terms of the relationships, the family connections, the opportunity to compete for championships, and the type of students that we wanted to have in our basketball family. Those were the emphases from day one. That philosophy is what I grew up believing in, and it is the DNA that I’m wired with. It was a very joyous period to be able to share so much with my own family and to be able to live out my dream as a college basketball coach, which pointed me here, to Point Loma, and the tremendous opportunity we have in front of us here.
DB: PLNU went to the national championship last year. How can you build on that success?
Logie: It is a super exciting time to join forces. As I described it to my family as I went through the process, there’s proof of concept now; there’s a track record that shows that Point Loma can compete with the best teams in the nation. So, that’s really exciting to be able to, not just talk about from a vision standpoint, or this is our dream for a program, but to actually have tangible proof that this is what we all can accomplish when we’re pulling in the same direction. We certainly want to strive for championships, in the conference and on a national level, but that has never been how I define success in our program. It’s more about encapsulating what our potential is and what our ceiling is and doing everything in our power to reach that pinnacle. The proof of concept that when everything is done right and done well and things break your way, that you can compete for a national championship. There aren’t a lot of places that can say that.