Assistant basketball coach Charles Belt is entering his first season at NMU.Belt started coaching with the Wisconsin Shooting Stars team, a traveling team for high schoolers who want to catch the attention of college recruiters. He then moved on to Beloit College for two seasons as the assistant coach there. He helped lead the program from 17 conference wins in five years to 19 conference wins in two years. Now he has joined head coach Bill Sall and assistant coach William Hill for this men’s basketball season.
“So far the experience has been great,” Belt said. “[Coach Sall] is undoubtedly a proven winner and you can’t quantify the value of that. He’s also a great listener. Most head coaches don’t listen to their assistants but he’s willing to hear both of our opinions and actually consider what we say.”
Belt said Hill is great to work with.
“Hill knows NMU, he grew up in this area, he played for NMU and he’s been coaching here already,” Belt said. “It’s great to learn from him. When I go out in the public and they realize that I’m affiliated with the basketball program at NMU the first question I always get asked is, ‘How’s Coach Hill?’ It’s great to see that kind of relationship and to see how the Upper Peninsula is.”
Belt said if there was one word that could sum up what he wants to see this season, it would be progress.
Belt said he wants the team to show they are great ambassadors of Northern Michigan University on the court, in the classroom and in the community.
“The past two years have been rough [for the basketball team] on and off the court,” Belt said. “We really want to establish ourselves in the community. We’ve already done some food serving at the Beacon House, but that’s just the start of it.”
Belt also said the team’s outlook for the upcoming season is improving.
“We have only three players returning plus six true freshmen and six transfers,” Belt said. “It’s a new start for this team.”
Belt said the NCAA doesn’t allow official practices to start until Tuesday, Oct. 15.
The men are still required to practice eight hours of basketball-related activity each week, of which only two can be on the court.
“You can tell that they genuinely like each other,” Belt said. “They’re playing as a team and showing that they get along off the court which helps when they’re on the court. This kind of relationship is something you can’t fake.”
Sall said Belt has been fantastic so far.
“He just has a tremendous amount of energy,” Sall said. “He’s a great communicator and that’s something that you need in an assistant coach.”
Sall also said one of the main goals that Belt has is to work on the team’s publicity.
“We really want to improve our image with the community,” Sall said. “So far he’s done a tremendous job with that and it’s only going to get better.”
Sall said Belt really fits in with his new team.
“The first step of the new coach, new player relationship is building trust and [Coach Belt] has been doing that,” Sall said. “He does a really great job at bridging the gap from head coach to assistant coach to player.”
Sall said the coaches work very well together and are ready for what the season has to bring.
“We have great chemistry,” Sall said. “We’re working together like a team and all three of us are very determined.”
The coaching staff came back this weekend from recruiting in the Chicago and Wisconsin areas.
Sall said Belt’s connections in the area benefited the coaching staff in making recruiting decisions.
“He’s coached the area in the past and knows the people we went to talk to,” Sall said. “He’s a strong recruiter with connections.”