Ty Harrelson (agency: LUMANI 10.7 ) is a former player that spent a majority of his playing career in Germany playing for teams like FC Bayern Munich, BBC Bayreuth, Osnabrueck and TV Langen. He began his coaching career in his native Australia and coached at Wayland Baptist University for 6 years before being names Rasta Vechta head coach in the summer of 2022. He currently is 4-0 with Rasta Vechta and spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball during the summer
Thanks Ty for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?
Basketball life is great, I get to do something everyday that I really enjoy. We are in Vechta after going to the NBA summer league last week. Basketball has always been a big part of my immediate and extended family. I grew up with parents who played and coached basketball so it is just a way of life at this point.
I guess I will start by saying better late than never. In the summer of 2015 you asked me if I could do an interview for you as you were at the start of your coaching career. I have to be honest, I just lost track and forgot. Now 7 years later and you having a new challenge in Vechta, I finally reach out. What kind of better late than never have you experienced in your basketball life?
In 2013, I started coaching in Australia. By summer of 2015 our team was playing in the finals in the Australian (SBL) NBL1. I probably wanted to get noticed by German clubs so they would know I wanted to coach here. So better late than never!
Congrats on your new challenge in Vechta. Like so many players I have covered, you also had to pay your dues as a coach. Despite playing 4 years in Germany, how big of a goal was it always to coach in Germany?
I am very thankful for the opportunity to have played and now getting to coach in Germany. It was an enjoyable experience as a player and I formed some of my basketball philosophy from previous coaches here. Last August it became clear that I wanted to coach professionally again. We moved to Europe in order to be in this situation.
How competitive is the coaching market in general but also in Germany. Does it surprise you a bit that it took you so long to find a job in Germany?
In general, the coaching profession is super competitive. A lot of times it is a who you know profession versus a what you know.
Do you feel like possibly having been a NAIA coach scares pro teams away overseas because that is the fourth college league?
We regularly beat DII and DIII’s so fourth league might be a misperception. I have a philosophy built on my experiences on three of the most popular continents for the game of basketball and thankful for the employers who see success as more important than level.
You actually got your first coaching gig with TV Langen last season helping the team stay in the Regionalliga despite injury woes. What was it like coaching the team where you played your second pro season and first in Germany?
When the job came open it was an opportunity to stay and help them avoid relegation. It was a fun experience with the exception of the injuries and illness etc.
When looking back to 2005 I guess the only thing that didn’t change from then until now is that Jogi Barth is still there. What was basketball like in 2005 in Germany compared to now? It must be like night and day?
Yes, Jogi signed me to my first playing and coaching contract in Germany. I guess the main difference in terms of basketball is we all got older! The level of basketball has consistently improved, that is a credit to the work that the federation, clubs, and coaches have put in over the years.
How important was your TV Langen gig last season for your self-confidence and getting your foot in the coaching door in Germany?
Although the roster was a little bit inconsistent for different reasons the guys were a lot of fun to be around and coach. I am glad I was able to work in Germany again.
Congrats on your new challenge with Rasta Vechta. What really stood out in the Vechta press release was that you coach with heart? Is that something that you personally think is something that isn’t as present with all coaches?
Yes, it is present with most coaches especially at games. But I don’t think execution is the same for everyone.
You stand for passion, defense, fight and playing quickly. Talk a little about what your defensive philosophy exactly is. The club’s goal is to play the best defense in the league.
Yes, we stand for those things and we do want to have the best defense. Our basic defensive philosophy is to disrupt the offense.
With playing fast what kind of set offense will your team will play on a regular basis?
We will play opportunistic offense allowing our players to showcase their talent.
With Gerrit you have an ex agent who knows the players market. How much of an advantage has that been for your recruiting?
Gerrit has been amazing. He is connected all over the globe with his background as an agent. It is evident that he is great at building and maintaining relationships. Gerrit is very professional when it comes to communication, which has made the transition for our entire staff smooth. It has been an advantage for our recruiting because he has the experience necessary to sign players that we identify with.
You have very qualified assistant coaches. With Marius Graf an expert in the youth sector and with Miguel Zapata a guy who worked with rising coach Pedro Calles. How excited are you to work with these guys?
Very excited. They have all the necessary experience to step in and take our team to a new level. Marius has won a couple of games in the Pro A already and does great on court work with the players. Miguel has coached in Champions League here and been in high level professional markets. We also have Domenik Theodorou as our strength coach coming in from Bamberg. I feel like the players are in such a great situation here in Vechta.
How important will be the work with the youth sector? Last season the NBBL team reached the final and regionalliga team moved up to the Pro B with young players. Could you even imagine increasing the presence of young Germans in the pro A this season?
We have a very dedicated coaching staff and development program. Hendrik Gruhn did a great job winning the Regionalliga last season. Our NBBL team has some of the best German talent and we have signed a few of them to our Pro A team already. I would like to implement basketball philosophy so our program has identity from top to bottom. We want players to grow into professional players and stay with us here at RASTA. To answer your question, there will be a presence of both experienced and young Germans playing for us this season.
Who are your coaching influences and what will be your biggest challenge in the Pro A as a coach this season?
I tried to take the best things from the coaches I played for over the years and develop them into my own philosophy. There are a lot of really good coaches in the Pro A. Some of them have been successful coaches for over a decade, dating back to when I was playing. I played for Frenkie Ignjatovich and Derrick Taylor, so those games will be fun.
How important were your 6 seasons at Wayland Baptist University (NAIA). How do you feel did you grow as a coach in the NAIA?
Being in the USA basketball market was a great experience. I was able to grow my network and learn from some of the best coaches in the country during this time.
You won the SAC title in 2016. What memories do you have of this time?
I remember cutting down the nets in 2016 championship game. Perhaps our best team was the 2018 team that won 25 games and was highly ranked at the end of the season. We also won the regular season in 2019 for the first time ever.
You began your coaching career in 2013 with the Southwest Slammers (SBL). What memories do you have of being that player/coach? It is something that is rarely seen in basketball. What was the coolest about the job and what was the toughest about it?
The best part was making the playoffs all three season and in 2015 we made it to the Grand Final. It was a really great time for basketball in Bunbury. The toughest part was making the decision to take a college job in the USA.
What are you looking forward to most to coaching in the Pro A and what kind of coach do you want to become this season?
Right now I am looking forward to building relationships with the guys on our team in Vechta. Of course the atmosphere in the Rasta Dome is exciting to think about. I want to be the coach who helps RASTA re-establish ourselves as a top tier program.
Thanks Ty for the chat.