Sitting in his office in the men’s basketball locker room, Patrick Sellers reflects on his time at Central Connecticut State University. He played and coached for the Blue Devils some 20 years ago, but Sellers has had a lot of stops between then and now. Now, he returns as the next head coach of men’s basketball.
“Walking in here, you get goosebumps,” Sellers said.
“In my cover letter, one of the last things I said was that I’m a Central Connecticut guy,” Sellers said. “I grew up here as an 18 year old and that’s who I am. It’s really exciting to think about that: these guys are playing for a team that I played for and I coached for.”
The job of rebuilding this CCSU team has already begun for Sellers. For starters, he’s mapped out his plan for rebuilding the roster, which only has four names not in the transfer portal at the time of this article.
Sellers said that this starts with the guys already on the roster. “I called everybody last night and basically said, ‘Hey fellas, if there’s an ounce of you that’s not in, then you should put your name in the portal. I want everybody 10 toes in. I wanted to make sure that we got the guys who are already in the program in, because they’re Central guys. We have some really good pieces.”
From there, Sellers said he will be taking a good look at the high school level. With so many names in the transfer portal this year, there are a crop of players in high school not getting as many offers as they normally might.
“When you get into a new job, you want to get a good core of guys,” Sellers said. “I think if we go the high school ranks and we get three or four core guys that can help the culture of what we’re trying to get going here along with the guys we have, I’d like to go that route first.”
However, the vast number of names in the transfer portal is something Sellers said he will keep an eye on as well.
“I am going to look at the portal because you can find a couple of guys there, but they all have to be what we want in terms of character and culture that we’re trying to build,” Sellers said. He expects to find only one or two players from the transfer portal for this year’s roster.
Sellers will be taking a lot of lessons from his previous coaching gigs. He’s worked under two of the best minds in the current game on both ends of the ball: Jay Young and his defensive juggernaut teams at Fairfield and Greg McDermott. On his time with McDermott at Creighton, Sellers said “I used to sit in the office like, ‘man this guy is a genius.'”
Starting his coaching career as an assistant to Howie Dickenman at Central is something still very important to the first time head coach.
“Coach D was a perfect coach to start with, he taught me how to do everything the right way,” Sellers said. “We lived by the HAT rule: humble, appreciative and thankful. That’s who I am today. I want them to be on time, in great shape. Things haven’t gone well for them yet and we need to get that turned around, but part of that being turned around is how you act on the court, how you act off the court and how you interact with your teachers.”
Sellers emphasized how important the off the court things are for him, especially on campus.
“I want people to know these guys on campus for being a good person. They don’t have to know you for playing basketball, I want you to be a good guy. If we get that part of it, the basketball part of it will take care of itself.”
Going into the specifics of his coaching strategies, Sellers said that he’s a “big analytics guy,” something he has learned from coaches like McDermott, Young and even Jim Calhoun.
“One of the things I’m going to do when we get on the court is show the team the hot spots on the court. We want to get shots at the rim, we want to get corner threes. I’m huge into analytics and shot quality.”
Interim Athletic Director Tom Pincince, who was hiring manager on the coaching search, had high praise for the new coach.
“[Sellers’] commitment to creating the environment where our players could be successful is what stood out to me,” Pincince said in an interview with the Recorder. “I’ve sometimes said that the basketball stuff will take care of itself once you put the pieces in place to be successful on the court. There’s a lot to do other than just play basketball. We’ve seen that you can do it here.”
Once the pool of apllicants was narrowed down, Pincince said he knew he had found the right guy for the job.
“Some people wanted to be a head coach, some people wanted to be the head coach at Central Connecticut. I think there’s a difference there,” Pincince said. “Once we got to those final five, I think we had five people who wanted to be the head coach of Central Connecticut.”
“[Sellers] understands this place and what it takes to get things done. We don’t have the biggest budget, we’re not going to be able to recruit all over the country. A lot of people here know how to get more done with less.”
“I walked in here when I was 18 years old,” Sellers said. “Now coming back full circle, sitting at this desk, it goes back to basically how I was raised. All these guys, all the different people that touched my life going through this journey, and now to be at this seat and be at this university again as a head coach, it is surreal, it’s exciting.”
“Man I wish practice was starting tomorrow.”