Men's Basketball

New Morehead State Coach Sean Woods promotes high-octane offense

Then-Mississippi Valley State coach Sean Woods led that team to a conference title and an NCAA berth last year. He's ready to begin his first year at Morehead State.
Then-Mississippi Valley State coach Sean Woods led that team to a conference title and an NCAA berth last year. He's ready to begin his first year at Morehead State. ASSOCIATED PRESS

There will be a whole new style of basketball at Morehead State this season.

Yet, there is something familiar to these Eagles.

Unforgettable, actually.

Sean Woods, point guard on the 1992 Kentucky team dubbed "The Unforgettables," is the first-year coach at MSU.

Transforming Morehead from the deliberate offense and zone defense successfully employed by Donnie Tyndall — now at Southern Mississippi — Woods plans to have his Eagles flying full speed.

Woods will make his Morehead debut Friday night against Long Island, a game that is part of the Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn.

After serving on staffs at High Point, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Texas Christian, Woods was head coach the last four seasons at Mississippi Valley State. He led the Delta Devils to a conference title and NCAA Tournament berth last season.

As a player at UK, his mentors included Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith and Billy Donovan, all of whom have won NCAA titles as head coaches.

NCAA talk is nothing new to Morehead. Tyndall guided the Eagles to appearances in 2009 and 2011.

Drew Kelly, a redshirt junior, says the combination of those recent NCAA trips and Woods' more recent experience have the Eagles believing that they can make the field next March.

"Oh, yeah, definitely," Kelly said. "I believe there's a fine line between believing it and being confident enough that we can go out and do it, and believing it and thinking everything's going to be easy. And that's a mind-set that we can't have.

"Right now, we don't have that mind-set. We have the mind-set of we have the tools to be able to win this conference and get to the NCAA Tournament, and that's what we're working for everyday. He's done a really good job of instilling that into our minds and how we practice and how we perform and help each other get better every day."

Woods' methods are much different than Tyndall's, though, so the learning curve is significant.

"We've got a long way to go," Woods said. "Changing the culture in the way — how fast we play — compared to what they did last year. I'm a high-octane, play real fast and man-to-man, while they played all zone. So it's a work in progress."

The common thread he wants is toughness, Woods said. Mental toughness. Able to play fast or slow without turning the ball over. Ability to guard man-to-man.

"Everybody wants to play fast, but they don't know what it takes to play fast," Woods said. "So they're learning, but we're getting better every day."

Morehead returns three starters and has 13 newcomers (10 transfers, three freshmen), including Mississippi Valley State transfers Jason Holmes and Brent Arrington.

  Comments