Newly hired assistant coach Ronald Hughey brings a simple, old-school philosophy to the Texas women’s basketball team.
“You must be agile, mobile, hostile,” he repeats multiple times at every practice.
That philosophy is something that has generally been lost in the college basketball world thanks to teams opting for finesse over power. In the name of excelling in one category, teams often compromise other parts of the mantra, but not Hughey.
“Our philosophy is simple. We are going to be up in people’s faces and try to create a level of discomfort for offenses,” Hughey said. “It’s about being aggressive all the time, it’s simple basketball that people can easily forget.”
Hughey is something of a throw-back in the college basketball world in more than just his teaching style. One of the many reasons head coach Gail Goestenkors brought Hughey brought to Texas was because of his recruiting style.
“I’m very old-school,” Hughey said. “The new style for recruiters is to send out DVDs of immaculate art work of their school and tell them all these other things that really don’t matter, and people forget about building a relationship with the kids. People have forgotten about picking up the phone and just having a conversation. That’s what I strive to excel at.”
Part of that paternal attitude comes from the fact that Hughey’s father ran out on him as a child. He was raised by his grandmother, as well as another figure that he said, gave him a direction in life.
“My high school coach, Tim Gates, is one of the other people that changed my life forever. I consider him my mentor and my father right now, because my dad walked away from me when I was 6 years old.”
Gates gave him discipline and coaching structure. There isn’t a day that goes by where Hughey doesn’t think about Gates, and how he owes his start in coaching to him. Gates first hired Hughey to be an assistant coach back at his old high school.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for him,” Hughey said. “One of the best things he ever said to me was ‘You can coach every day in practice, every day. But I couldn’t say anything during the games, because I didn’t know anything to say.’ And that was the best thing that ever happened to me, because it gave me a chance to look and see and listen to him coach. That sparked my passion from there.”
Gates helped Hughey find coaching jobs from that point on and Hughey worked every position from middle school to college. Now he has been handed the reigns to develop Texas’ defense and post players, something he has had success with in the past at other schools. Coach Goestenkors also brought him to Texas for the passion he wears on his sleeve.
“He’s excellent, high energy,” Goestenkors said. “You’ll see his energy on the floor as well. It’s perfect timing for him because we need to be very high energy, very defense oriented and getting the tips and the steals so we can get our transition game going. He’s doing a great job.”
Hughey “busts his behind” to get work done every day because of his passion for the game, as well as one more motto his grandmother made sure he lived by.
“Every single morning, from the time I was in the ninth grade, she wrote a saying on the mirror — ‘Be better than you were the day before.’ She wanted me to know the importance of consistency and bettering myself and enjoying life. So I work hard, and I make my day. My day doesn’t make me.”
Hughey understands that in the end, Texas has a lot of work to do to recover from a stinging end to last season. But with all the mottos and philosophies he lives by, he has no doubt that his old-school style will help Texas in the long run.