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Talking Sports with North Dakota assistant coach Dean Oliver

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Dean Oliver, an assistant coach at the University of North Dakota, recently took time to do an interview with The Capital Sports Report. His interview is about his playing and coaching career.

Dean Oliver (Photo UNDSports.com)

TCSR: Why did you choose to attend Iowa?

DO: “It was a good fit for me. I’m originally from Iowa, and my high school had just won back-to-back State Championships at the time. I loved it when I took my visit and it was a good fit at the time. Ricky Davis was also committing, so it was a package deal. We were friends and wanted to go to the same school.”

TCSR: You are one of three players in Big Ten history with 1,500 points, 500 assists, and 200 steals in a career. What does it mean to you to have accomplished this in your career?

DO: “Well, it’s nice to be in the record books. It shows that hard work does pay off. It is also nice to show my kids these accomplishments when they get older. It would show them that daddy had a very good college career.”

TCSR: Could you talk about making it to the Sweet 16 your sophomore year?

DO: “My sophomore year, when we went to the Sweet 16, it was a special year. We were a special team, because it was (head coach) Tom Davis’ final year at Iowa. We wanted to send him out on a good note. We also had a great team – the chemistry, camaraderie – on that team that it was something that Iowa had never seen before.”

TCSR: After your college career, you played two years with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA. Could you talk about that experience?

DO: “It was a dream come true for me. I worked so hard, but didn’t get drafted. I got invited to a summer league, and then played well in the summer league. I played so well to get invited to training camp, where I was able to play my way onto the team. There was a major trade that opened up a roster spot, and I ended up holding onto my spot. I was really fortunate and worked very hard to achieve that. The second year, I didn’t have a guaranteed contract, so I had to keep grinding. I was so happy and enjoyed my experience in the NBA.”

TCSR: After playing in the Association with the Warriors, you played overseas in France, Slovenia, Croatia, Poland, and the Netherlands. What was the best place you liked to play at the most?

DO: “They were all great honestly. I had great experiences in all the countries, but I ended up staying in the Netherlands for three seasons. It was my second home, so to speak. Also, it was an easy transition, because most people were able to speak English. They brought me into the family, so to speak. That was my favorite place to play.”

TCSR: Since you said the EiffelTowers in the Netherlands was your favorite place to play. What was it like playing for them?

DO: “It was a lot of fun. It was a great experience, because we did not just play in the Netherlands. We would go all throughout Europe to play different clubs throughout the world. I still keep in contact with a lot of guys there. One of my former teammates is the GM there now. It is a special place to me.”

TCSR: What inspired you to go into coaching after playing for so long overseas and in the NBA for a short time?

DO: “After being a point guard, it seemed like I was an extension of the coaching staff on the floor, so I wanted to continue to be apart of the team. I also wanted to learn the craft – and it is a new challenge – because I was ready for something new in my life. Plus, I was able to be closer to my family here in the States.”

TCSR: Could you talk about why you decided to join Brian Jones’ staff at North Dakota?

DO: “We’ve always kept in contact. It happened to be that I was in the right spot at the right time. He had an assistant coach, who was leaving, and I was finishing my playing career and was trying to find a coaching job. The stars just lined up for me, and he was somebody that I wanted to coach under. He’s a great X’s and O’s guy, who I saw work hard as a young coach when I first met him at Iowa. I want to learn as much as I can from him.”

TCSR: On January 7th, your current team at North Dakota travels to New Mexico to face your former head coach Steve Alford. Not only will you be facing your former head coach, but Brian Jones will be facing his former boss. What do you think that will be like?

DO: “That’s going to be an exciting game, especially because Coach Jones coached under Coach Alford, and at the same time, I played under Coach Alford. It is always fun to play against friends. I know how competitive Coach Alford is, and I also know how competitive we are, so it’s going to be a good game. Even though we are friends, we all want a good showing by our teams. If they don’t perform well, we’ll hear about it until the next time we play each other, which could be a year or more down the road. It is an important game for us.”

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