Coach’s Corner: Marc Dobell’s timeless style in a changing sport
By Gage Smith, Sports Editor
Marc Dobell has been a men’s basketball coach for longer than Mount Royal has been a university. But his career with the school didn’t start on the bench, but as a player for the Mount Royal College.
“I was a pass-first point guard who had to fight and claw for everything. Lack of talent, a lot of effort,” Dobell said.
A lot of talented players say that about themselves, but Dobell seeing himself this way has clearly contributed to his coaching style, which he says revolves around his players being ready to work hard.
“I’m not there to yell and scream … I’m not there to motivate them every day and give them speeches. I’m there to help them become better basketball players. At this level, I think players need to show up every day already motivated and with a good work ethic,” Dobell said.
Dobell gives credit to one of his own former coaches, Gary Howard, for his own appreciation for the value of work ethic in his players. He describes Howard as a tougher coach who ran very “disciplined teams.”
“He was old-school for sure. He got into players. But one of the things I loved about him was that he was honest. If you were good or bad, he made sure you knew about it. He demanded full effort from his players at all times and that rings true with me to this day,” Dobell said.
Dobell added that sticking with that mentality helped him with his transition from coaching to playing. He said that the hardest part was wanting to be on the floor, as coaches don’t have the same, “Direct influence on the outcome of the game.”
Speaking of transitions, Dobell was at the helm for the Mount Royal University (MRU) Cougars for their very first season stepping up from the Alberta College Athletic Conference to the U Sports league.
“Since [that transition], every team is a quality team and you’ve got to be ready to compete every night. It’s fun having that challenge every day,” Dobell said.
Dobell and the Cougars look for players who are up to that challenge when they recruit new talent. Aside from coming in ready to work hard, he looks for athletic players who can shoot the ball, regardless of position.
“We’re looking for guys who can knock down the three, and the better the athlete, the better opportunities guys are going to have at this level. Gone are the days of the back-to-the-basket guys or the pass-only point guard. You need to have a more diverse skillset to be able to play today,” Dobell said.
The coach says that when he played in high school, the three point line wasn’t even there yet. His first season at the college level was his first with the three ball and a shot clock. Now he leads a team that runs all five of his players around the perimeter.
Despite all of the adjustments, Dobell’s hard-nosed, hard-working style has stayed the same and served MRU well.
“We’re a young team, but these guys are going to be good ambassadors for the MRU basketball program. Come on out, check them out, and cheer on your Cougars,” Dobell said.