Mel Good remembered another time he took a chance with a basketball program.
It was 1984 when Good formed an AAU team in Columbus after a group of boys, who were headed toward ninth grade, had finished unbeaten while playing with a Foundation For Youth team.
Good and his players quickly discovered they were going to be playing at a much higher level.
“We played an AAU team from Gary,” Good said. “That was a lesson. I was watching 13-year-old boys running and dunking.”
Good, 64, is about to embark on a new challenge. The former Columbus East girls basketball head coach and assistant has taken over the duties as head coach of the IUPUC men’s basketball program, which enters its second year as a club team.
“This was going to be my last year as an assistant with the East girls,” Good said. “I had retired once before, then came back for five more years.
“But I saw this as a new challenge, as something I haven’t done. It gets the juices flowing, and I thought maybe I could help.”
Good, who had been an AAU coach and a volunteer assistant with the East boys team, took over the Olympians girls program in 1990 and was head coach for 13 years, leading two of his teams to the state final four.
He is confident that his general knowledge of basketball will work whether he is coaching girls basketball, AAU basketball or men’s basketball.
“A basketball coach is a basketball coach,” he said while his IUPUC players warmed up for a late night practice session at the FFY gym.
He will get to test that theory soon. IUPUC opens its season Nov. 16-17 in a club tournament at Ohio State University. In February, IUPUC will begin its initial season in the Great Lakes Conference of the National Club Basketball Association.
IUPUC will join Bryant & Stratton of Akron, Ohio, Bryant & Stratton of Cleveland and Miami of Ohio. The National Club Basketball Association hosts a national championship tournament at the end of the season.
“I want to see us play in a game so I can find out how good we are,” Good said. “I really have some good talent.”
He only has two practices a week to work with that talent.
“The main thing I am trying to do is to go over defenses and defensive sets,” he said. “Everybody can score so I’m not too worried about the offense.”
Good is a 1968 Columbus High School graduate who played for local basketball coaching legend Bill Stearman. He said he learned many important lessons from Stearman.
“I learned that size matters and the way you practice is the way you play.
“We went at it hard. Our practices were scary how physical it was. We weren’t afraid of anything.”
IUPUC has the look of a team that could be physical.
Former Columbus North player Dee Jones gives IUPUC an inside presence at 6-foot-8. Columbus East grad Jackson Renshaw provides a one-two inside punch at 6-5.
Southwestern (Shelby) grad Drew Tucker, a 6-foot-3 small forward, appears to be an intimidating presence as a 23-year-old freshman.
“I’m a late bloomer,” he said.
With 11 players on the roster, IUPUC is in better shape than its initial season where attracting players to the roster was a problem.
“It’s definitely more organized,” said Joey Smith, a guard who played last season. Being in a league is going to help. And we have a lot more talent. It’s completely different.”
Smith also is glad IUPUC hired Good, who has a solid background in coaching.
“He’s pretty cool,” Smith said. “I like his style of coaching. He is more laid back. The other coaches I have had made me feel like I was in the military.”
Although Smith, who is a Seymour Christian School graduate, just wanted to be a practice player this season, he said Good has talked him into playing in the games.
Good didn’t have to convince Dylan Koors, a North Decatur grad who said he just loves basketball and is looking forward to the opportunity to keep playing.
“Coach Good is a nice guy and he has some great ideas,” Koors said. “You can tell he is going to lead us in a good direction.”