Greg Francis, a former professional basketball player and coach has been brought in as an assistant by longtime friend and Ooks head coach Mike Connolly with the goal of getting the Ooks back to championship status. His experience on both ends of the court will be an asset to the Ooks, especially when it comes to developing the guards and forwards individually. Francis is also currently the manager of Men’s High Performance at Canada Basketball, where he specializes in individual coaching. He sees the strong work ethic the Ooks have, which is one of the reasons he believes this team can make it back to Nationals.
Francis is from Toronto and started playing basketball at a young age. Whether it was junior high, high school or provincial teams, Francis shone as a scorer. Francis first met Connolly while playing provincials in 1990-91. Francis’ ability to score was one of the big reasons why he was able attend Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut and lead them to a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship, while also being named MAAC MVP in 1994. Francis played professionally overseas from 1997-2000, where he was an all-star. He was also able to play alongside Steve Nash on Canada’s National team that went to the Olympics in 2000.
During his time with Canada Basketball, Francis was able to gain valuable knowledge from head coach Jay Triano. Francis said ‘he definitely fell from his coaching tree,’ as he was also able to be an assistant coach to Triano for Canada Basketball’s senior team in the following years.
Francis also credits acclaimed Canadian basketball coaches, Ken Shields, Ken Olynyk and Mike Connolly for developing his game and coaching philosophy to the highlevel it is at now.
His first time as an assistant coach was at Monmouth University in 2001. There he helped guide Mon – mouth to the NCAA t o u r n a m e n t w h e r e they played Duke in the first round, who ultimately became the National Champions. “It shows you what’s possible” said Francis, after seeing Duke play live, as an opposing coach. The game against Duke showed him that you don’t need the best talent, as long as you’re the hardest worker, you can work your way to the pinnacle.
With his extensive playing career and immense coaching experience, Francis has seen what it takes to be a champion. He knows it is possible to be very successful if the team has a strong work ethic, which he sees in the Ooks. Especially in fourth year players guard Wyatt Beaver, and forward Samson Cleare. Francis knows it will take a full all-hands-on-deck team effort to bring the Ooks back to Nationals. However, Francis said “he doesn’t see any other team with better forwards at the ACAC level.” He sees the build of the Ooks game as being more old school, more of an inside game. Francis hopes his individual coaching will also help bring the perimeter game, especially with their guards to the levels of their interior game.
Greg Francis was brought to the Ooks by Connolly, a friend he has known for over 20 years, to help bring the Ooks back to the Nationals and to help bring home more championships for the men’s basketball team.