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Nov 2002 / a day's work :: email this story to a friend

Beane There
By Thomas Crone

Last month, we previewed a book in progress, including work from this author and photographer Bob Reuter. We'll toss out our second and last sneak peek this month.

Anthony Beane The finished product will feature 50 people who work in the City of St. Louis. In this case, we found someone who lives in St. Charles, is new to the area, and has a job that's both high-profile and somewhat anonymous: Anthony Beane, an assistant basketball coach for Saint Louis University.

We caught up with former Kansas State star Anthony Beane at the school's Bauman-Eberhardt Center, on the West Pine mall. In an office that hasn't really been decorated since his springtime arrival — framed photos on the walls show Charlie Spoonhour's players in action — Beane chatted about his latest gig, before we walked through the team's practice quarters for some more talk.

TC: When did you first talk to Coach Soderberg about the job? And how soon did it come about after you talked?
AB: When Coach Soderberg called, it was actually the middle of April. It was a couple weeks later that he called and asked if I'd be interested in talking. We talked and that's when it all escalated.

TC: Between then and now, how much of your work has been on campus with athletes and how much has been in recruiting?
AB: Basically, it's been 100% recruiting. The little time we spend on the floor is spent getting us ready for the trip to Barcelona.

TC: Where are you coming from?
AB: I'm coming from Illinois State University, Bloomington, IL. I'm originally from Missouri. I grew up in a small town in southeast Missouri. I'm married, with two kids. My wife's from Sikeston, MO. To (come) back appealed to us.

TC: What were the other appeals to the job?
AB: I would say one is Coach Soderberg. He's a very honest person. I think he's an outstanding coach. With his leadership the program will be successful. Being a coach like myself, you always want to go to successful programs, to build your résumé. And the last thing is Conference-USA. It's one of the best conferences in the country. You can get in on recruiting a much higher caliber of athlete than at Illinois State. Those three factors were pretty decisive.

TC: How familiar were you with St. Louis prior to arriving?
AB: Very familiar with St. Louis. I used to also coach at Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau and we recruited St. Louis very heavily. When I first came here, I was familiar with the high school coaches.

TC: How about the city itself, and the day-to-day flow of things here?
AB: I had spoken to some really nice people and they gave me good advice. We actually bought a home in St. Charles and really seem to enjoy living there. So far. Hopefully, it'll stay that way.

TC: You've mentioned a couple stops in your coaching career. Has it been a succession of two- to three-year stops, or have you settled someplace longer?
AB: Actually, I spent two to three years at each spot. I was at Southeast Missouri State the longest. In this business, you want to continue to climb the ladder. You want to also be able to feel like you've gotten a pat on the back when someone like Coach Soderberg notices. Hopefully, that progress will continue, in St. Louis and on down the road.

TC: What are the toughest aspects of leaving a program or a city?
AB: Number one, you get attached to people you work with and the kids you recruit. From when recruiting starts, you're with a kid for a year. You know everything about him, his family. You're going to become attached, especially when they're on campus and you spend more time with them. When it's time to leave, it makes it really tough.

TC: Do you keep in touch with them?
AB: Yeah, you do. I still keep in touch with a bunch of the guys that I recruited, that have graduated and gone on. That's good, because these are people who are always going to be involved in the game. That can only help later, when you're recruiting other kids.

TC: This time of year...do people appreciate this part of the job? When they see you out on the court, do they have an idea of what this time is all about?
AB: No, they don't. I don't think people understand the time you need to spend to recruit just one person. And during the summer months they really think in our line of business it's time to lay back and relax. And that's not so. The month of May, when school's out, you get a little time to rest. But once June starts, it's basketball camps. And recruiting really starts, which is year-round now. In July, you're gone the whole month. So, no, I agree; I don't think people know what's involved.

TC: What are the keys in dealing with 17-, 18-year-olds during this whole process? Does it ever get easy?
AB: No. Every kid's different. If you do find that out, please let me know. All kids are different. You've just got to get a feel for them, in learning about their families and backgrounds and so on.

TC: Are there are common themes to selling this place to students?
AB: The thing we've been really trying to sell is this is a program playing in one of the top conferences in the country. It's a program on the rise, that's not reached its potential yet. This is our coaching staff's first year, so they can be involved in the first recruiting class we have, which is kind of special. And the Savvis Center, which I think is one of the best places in C-USA. And the kind of support you get around here — we have one of the top campuses in the conference.

TC: You've got athletes that you're maybe only familiar with by reputation. How do you get to know the players who were already in the program?
AB: We've got four guys that we actually signed since I've been here. The guys I'm not familiar with were with Coach Soderberg for a year and he's given us information. We've also had a chance to practice some this summer.

TC: This building gets a bad rap around town. People say you can't recruit with the West Pine as one of your main chips. What do you feel about that?
AB: Well, it's definitely not one of the biggest plusses here. We go around that by noting that it's a practice gym, which is what it is. It would definitely make our place more appealing to have a place on campus to call our own.

TC: What do you think about the campus and the neighborhoods around it? Have you had a chance to get out of your office and just look around?
AB: You know, I love the campus. I really do. I think it's a beautiful campus. You get the parents here and have them walk around the campus, see the waterfalls and things, and they're impressed. Students, they don't get impressed with that, but parents do. I love the way it's closed-off. I think it's a real selling point for parents.

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