Simon Thriving in First Year as Findlay’s Head Coach

 

By BRIAN FITZSIMMONS

Special to ZAGSBLOG

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Todd Simon picked up his phone to send Michael Peck a text message before taking the court at the Blake Arena on Monday afternoon.

After Findlay Prep (Nev.) edged Montverde Academy (Fla.), 62-59, in a thrilling showdown between the best high school basketball teams in America, you’d better believe the winning coach is rushing to contact Peck again.

“Oh, yeah, we talk all the time,” smiled Simon, who took over the desert-based powerhouse for Peck after the accomplished leader was named head coach of the Idaho Stampede, the D-League affiliate of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Truth be told, the 32-year-old Simon had every reason to smile, especially after watching Washington-bound guard Nigel Williams-Goss sink a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to lift the Pilots over Kevin Boyle’s Eagles at the 2013 Spalding Hoophall Classic.

Findlay Prep, which should maintain its top ranking in the USA Today poll, overcame a 12-point deficit in the last minute of the third quarter and a nine-point hole entering the fourth.

“This team plays with a purpose,” Simon said. “We rehearse these situations, so they have poise. We do a lot of situations in practice. I’m a big believer in that stuff. I’ll put us down 15 with three minutes left … so the guys just turn the switch on. They get exited about it.”

There’s no doubt the country’s most loaded squad has bought into Simon, whose recent win became his signature triumph as an up-and-coming name in coaching circles.

“The preparation over the years, being with Mike, was always for when we had something in place, maybe when I would get the opportunity,” said Simon, who was an associate head coach under Peck for five years. “So I felt like we’ve been prepared.”

After all, Peck had coached six McDonald’s All-Americans, six Parade All-Americans, six Jordan Brand All-Americans and six NBA players, including Tristan Thompson (Cleveland), Avery Bradley (Boston), Cory Joseph (San Antonio), DeAndre Liggins (Orlando), Joel Anthony (Miami) and Louis Amundson (Indiana).

Simon last season helped Findlay go 32-1 and win the ESPN National High School Invitational. In the previous five years, the Pilots amassed a 157-8 overall record, including a 65-0 clip at home with three NHSI championships.

The current roster, which includes the ever-reliable Goss, UCLA-bound combo guard Al Freeman and Indiana commit Stanford Robinson, looks every bit as powerful as the past. That certainly bodes well for Simon, who claims he’s in it for the long haul.

“Opportunities have risen over the last four or five years, but where could I go (with more talent)? I love Las Vegas, I love this program,” he said. “I was there Day 1 and saw it when the school said we’re going to do this program. It’d be hard to leave something you’ve always held onto.”

Don’t look now, but a rookie is in the driver’s seat toward a national title.

Photo: Las Vegas Sun

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25 comments
Mark Phelan
Mark Phelan

When you lead with your chin, as Miliner did, expect a punch.


From what I hear about the final 4 games one would think Miliner made us forget Revis.  Please.  Yes he got those interceptions - as I recall they were passes in front of him, but the flaws in both pass coverage (picking up the ball) and tackling (enough said) are big question marks for me.


I expect Rex will change the pass defense strategy to help Miliner keep plays in front of him and that should help.  But so far, even in the final 4 games Miliner reminds me more of Wilson than Revis.

Matthieu Laughlington
Matthieu Laughlington

I find northing wrong with Westy's comments....he's old school and he isn't concerned wit hurting this millionaire kids feels while trying to keep him humble. This kid has done nothing yet in this league and was a liability last year. He should be focused on getting better and shutting up.  And I don't wanna her about the four games he didn't suck, he's a professional...for the season, for his short career he has failed to perform to standard.

bradysucks
bradysucks

Everybody on the Jets needs to grow a beard just like Sheldon Richardson and Nick Mangold........That is the problem with this team......There are not enough real men with beards!!! Can Dee Millner even grow a beard? Can Stephen Hill? Can Geno? If they can't even grow a beard they shouldn't be starting......Revis had a beard...Yes He DID!!!


It is all about the beards gents.......and Rex needs to grown one.....As far as I am concerned the Jets would be better off with Rob Ryan who is far more of a man than Rexy diet food/clean shaven....


Thx.....and Westoff is just another bozo who isn't man enough to wear a beard


Word

Joe/Orlando
Joe/Orlando

Don't totally disagree with the sentiment but the university part was pushing it a little. Based on Hard Knocks this is just the what Westhoff's personality is.

Milliner may as well get used to it anyway. I'm sure opponents will be yapping at him about it soon enough.

__fense
__fense

Everyone who's upset about Milliner saying what he said didn't hear the full quote, and I'm willing to bet Westhoff didn't either. Sad state of affairs. 

Robert Epperly
Robert Epperly

kudos Westy,Milliner needs to be put in his place. Stop the bragging team and prove it on the field. Rooting for Troy Davis and Rontez Miles to make the team. Love Decker, Johnson, Giamcomini FA pickups. Great Draft! Goooooo Jets !!

rstysanchz
rstysanchz

i feel like when westhoff was in high school he was the kid who went a little too far with the mother jokes 

NYCPEinGermany
NYCPEinGermany

They must have them some kicka$$ corners up in Cortland U

Bent
Bent moderator

This is a dumb comment ... not because he's underplaying Milliner's sensational December, but because it doesn't make sense.  I know what he's trying to say - he's trying to imply that Milliner might not even be as good as a kid from a small college - but what he says doesn't make this point.


Milliner might not be the best CB there.  Okay, let's say he isn't.  Let's say the veteran Patterson is a better player at this stage of their respective careers.  Involving kids from the university is entirely moot.  It's like saying "I'm the richest person in the building ... and that includes the homeless bum sleeping outside too!"

lindro88
lindro88

What makes you think he's not focused on getting better? Someone asked him a question, and he answered it. If anything, he puts more pressure on himself to play like a number one corner. As for failing to perform, that's nonsense. He did what you want rookies to do. He got better as the season went on.

bobbyj
bobbyj

Did u hear what Westoff said right before the draft , after just leaving the Jets facility?? That Idxik was not giving Rex what he needed to sucseed in the secondary, & that Rex's entire defense revolves around man corner play....

Joe/Orlando
Joe/Orlando

I heard the whole thing and I'm not "upset" but I still thought it was a pretty stupid thing to say.

Hanknaples
Hanknaples

@Bent 

I believe your analogy is flawed !!

I believe it would be correct had you said; " I'm not sure you are the richest person in the building.....and it might include the homeless sleeping outside too !!!

Ron Alexander
Ron Alexander

@Bent Westy often comes off a bitter. Not sure what that's all about because as far as I know he left on his own? I can see if he's just saying Milliner needs to keep his mouth shut until he actually plays at that high level he showed late last season on a consistent basis.But I agree, comparing him to a S.U.N.Y Cortland kid is a bit over doing it.

joemustgo
joemustgo

@Bent I switch stations as soon as I hear his voice. Not because I don't like negative comments about the Jets, but because he's become the latest in a growing line of ex-Jets who gets paid by ESPN specifically to be negative.

D'Apostraphe Lewis
D'Apostraphe Lewis

@Bent That's what frustrates me. I respect Westhoff and Namath's right to have an opinion on the team they gave their professional careers to, but they seem to always take it a step further and become disrespectful while doing so. 


Nothing about this is constructive, it's just tearing down a young corner with tons of potential for showing confidence in himself. Boo Westy. 

Matthieu Laughlington
Matthieu Laughlington

@lindro88 No, his job was to stop receivers from catching the ball, and in that effort he failed....which is why he was benched repeatedly. I find it strange that anyone would consider this a debatable topic.

bradysucks
bradysucks

@Enzo David @bradysucks



Ed Reed - beard



- only draft and start guys with beards......


This isn't rocket science


lol

Pete 57
Pete 57

He wanted to be head coach and Woody interviewed him but looked past him 3 times.

Zartan
Zartan

His final season was riddled with it. Maybe it was the special teams depth.