In preparation for the District 28 tournament last February, Clay Moody – then Christian Academy’s head basketball coach – spent six weeks studying the Jeffersontown team he was to face in the first round.
Breaking the Chargers down player by player, he studied their tendencies and looked for weaknesses to exploit.
Tedious scouting wasn’t enough; the Centurions lost 53-42 ending their season.
Moody’s diligence, however, was not in vain.
After the resignation of 12-year head coach Jeff Morrow in May, Moody, 32, has been tabbed to lead J-town’s program and is using his prior knowledge to hit the ground running this summer.
“It’s really ironic,” said Moody, who went 25-29 in two seasons at Christian Academy. “I never imagined I’d have a chance to coach this team…but it helps to be familiar with them already.”
J-town, who will return two starters and eight seniors, finished 25-7 last season and fell to Eastern in the Region Seven final.
Due to realignment Moody’s squad will move to the Sixth Region next season, joining Bullitt East, Fern Creek and Whitefield Academy in District 24.
Even without graduating stars Tony Kimbro (Georgia State), Zach Price (Louisville) and Harry Cross (Berea), the Chargers will figure to be among the state’s elite next season.
Last Friday, on the eve of the summer dead period, Moody answered questions about his background in the game and hopes for the future at J-town.
How did you get started in coaching?
Like a lot of kids who grow up in Louisville, basketball was everything to me. I played for Waggener and had a good experience, especially my senior year when (Chris) Renner took over. He had really high expectations for us and some of the way I think about the game now was molded when he coached me that year.
As a student at WKU I was an assistant to Tim Riley at Warren Central. He gave me full access to all the practices and games and put me right next to him on the bench. That really opened the door to coaching. From there I took an assistant job at Iroquois for two seasons before coming to Christian Academy in ’06. I was an assistant for three seasons then got the head coaching position in ’09.
What have your first two weeks been like at J-town?
Very busy. I got the job on Thursday (June 9), the kids were in the gym on Monday and we were playing a game on Tuesday. We had missed the first two weeks of summer basketball so I was on the phone trying to get games right away.
One of the challenges was trying to coach without any preparation. We had one in-bounds play, one offensive set and just a couple of defensive calls. We played 12 games and won nine, but it’s not about winning games in the summer; it’s about getting them some experience and starting to build a relationship with the team.
What would you like to be the hallmark of your J-town teams?
I would hope that people say we play really hard, emphasize defense and are well prepared. When I was at Christian Academy we found a lot of confidence in the fact that we were prepared for our opponents. That takes away any anxiety or fear that you may have. If you’re prepared…you can just go out and execute in the moment.
We want to get after it sensibly, force an up-tempo style and create offense with our defense. I think because of our personnel we’ll see a lot of zone – that’s what I did when I played J-town – and we’ll have to be prepared for that. I think we can do stuff against the zone but we don’t want to be a half-court team.
What are you doing during the dead period?
Most of my downtime is spent with family (wife, Kirsten, children: Isaac, 6, Caleb, 3, and Abigail, 11 months) and friends. My wife and I are active in our church and I like to play golf when I can. I watch a lot of sports on TV as well.
I like to read and last week I picked up “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I never want to stop learning and being a young guy in a leadership position I like reading about other leaders and coaches.
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at email@example.com.