J. J. Tauai was always a coachable basketball player. Now he's finding out how much of that coaching rubbed off.
"You find a lot of things that you try to think back to from when you were a player. Things coaches would try to say to you. I think a lot of those things rubbed off."
Tauai's on the coaching staff at Notre Dame High School where, after 4 years of playing for Jim Les at Bradley, he's learning the ropes from another former Braves' point guard, Eddie Mathews.
"You take his knowledge and he's a winner," says Mathews. "He's coming from teams that have won. He knows what it takes to get it done. And we share some philosophies defensively and offensively. With all that combined and him being a great kid, it's good to have him around."
Part of coaching is winning the respect of your players and peers. As a member of Bradley's 2006 sweet–16 team J–J brought with him instant credibility. So Mathews didn't hesitate when Tauai offered to draw up a play with the Irish in a tight spot versus Macomb.
"When I needed something I said, 'Start thinking, we need a play. We're going to have a timeout.' J-J drew one up for us."
"I think it was a tie game with Macomb," recalled Tauai. "It was our possession and there were a few seconds left on the clock. I drew up a quick hitter, one of the plays we used to run at Bradley just popped into my head for one of our guys and I drew it up for him. He ended up using it and it worked."
Just like at Bradley, he's still making a difference from the bench.