With Scott Smith at the helm of the Bulldogs basketball program, defense comes first.
“If you look at all the programs for Class A that consistently make it to the state tournament just about every year, the one thing they all have is they play great defense. Their intensity is very good,” Smith told the Pilot. “I’m just a firm believer that if you’re going to win basketball games, you win it on the defensive end, and hopefully that will bring some offensive opportunities as well.”
Smith, a strength and conditioning teacher and track coach at Whitefish High School, recently accepted the boys basketball head coaching job, which opened up in April after former coach Sean Duff’s resignation.
Smith has taught in the district for 14 years and has a variety of coaching experiences in football, basketball and track.
He applied for the head coaching job once before, but said while the timing wasn’t right then, it is now.
“I’ve always wanted to coach, and it just seemed like the right moment, the right fit, and it all worked out,” he said.
As far as goals go for his first season, Smith is thinking big.
“Our No. 1 goal is to try to make it to state,” he said. “It’s got to be a goal for every team at the start of the year — make it to state, and from there we’ll start making our smaller goals as far as team stuff goes.”
Luckily, he’s got a veteran-filled roster returning to the hardwood.
“There’s a great group of kids coming back. We’re going to be senior laden there. The cupboard’s definitely not bare — Lee Walburn, Dillon Botner, Ryan Kemm, you can just keep going on. There’s a good group of seniors, and some good incoming freshmen coming up too,” he said.
Getting students to improve and achieve is the biggest plus for Smith as a coach.
Just like teaching, his love for coaching is all about the kids.
“You definitely don’t do it for the money. You don’t do it for acknowledgment or things like that, you do it for the kids, to be able to see them improve throughout the season,” he said. “That’s why people teach too.”
It’s been a rough couple of years for the Bulldogs, with records of 7-13 and 2-18 in the last two seasons.
However, Smith says he’s happy with the state of the program after Duff’s time as coach. Now it’s time to capitalize on a talented roster and move forward, he said.
“Hopefully we can get the ball rolling, the last few years have been a little rough and hopefully we can get things turned around and get the kids to buy into what we’re trying to do, and the rest will take care of itself,” Smith said.