CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The sets of eyes honed in on Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s men’s basketball team during Monday’s practice extended beyond those of the coaching staff.
Dr. Joe Carr was near, indulging in the focus on the Islanders.
Carr, a famed sports psychologist, observed as his exercises took their earliest effects.
This week is just the start of his mission with A&M-Corpus Christi.
Like with previous subjects — LeBron James and the Connecticut men’s basketball team among them — Carr’s goal is to develop team unity.
— Dr. Joe Carr on Texas A&M-CC coach Willis Wilson
“It’s a major part of high-level Division I basketball to have a guy with Dr. Carr’s credentials come in and work with our basketball team,” Islanders coach Willis Wilson said, “and it’s not just about working with the team, but being a friend of the program and a resource for the program.
“When you consider the people that he’s worked with like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in the NBA, a host of other guys, and then consider teams that have won national championships like Georgetown in years past and UConn just a year ago, you know the things that he does have value.”
And it’s up to the Islanders to unlock the extent of that value.
Wilson was an assistant coach at Memphis from 2009-11 when Carr was brought in to work with the Tigers. Memphis went 49-19 during that span and advanced to postseason tournaments both years.
But Memphis, like UConn, is a school steeped in basketball success.
Carr has met with several college programs — Auburn, Marquette and North Texas, to name a few — and NBA teams, so what brings him to the Coastal Bend?
“I depict him, to use your word, as a guy who’s holistic,” Carr said of Wilson. “He looks at the academics, he looks at the lifestyle, looks at personal development and he’s looking at the basketball side. Those are four major components you would think a lot of coaches in America look at and he consolidates them. He epitomizes what I think a good coach should [represent], and that’s why I’m here. I’m vibing with his value system.
“So with that in mind, it’s a perfect segue into what I do, which is team chemistry, getting people to sacrifice for something.”
Since Sunday, Carr has met with the Islanders to carry out team chemistry exercises, will check in throughout the rest of the season and attended Tuesday’s win against Jarvis Christian, the first of several small steps he hopes the team takes toward painting the big picture.
“With this team, I’m working on that aspect of getting them to come together for the sake of something,” Carr said, “and not just winning, but basically supporting each other in this process. And it’s a very difficult challenge . . . it’s hard to get to that point. Do you hammer it in? Do you play videos on it? No, you just have to talk about it and make sure you hold people accountable to it. As a result of that, the guys say, ‘You know what? This is something I see from the short term and I see how this can benefit me in the long term.’
“That’s the sell, and I think these kids are getting the message on that.”