Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Q&A with Pierre Curtis, Women’s Basketball Head Coach

Sports Editor Brock Eastman sat down with women’s basketball head coach Pierre Curtis to discuss his first season with the Paladins so far.
Courtesy of Furman Athletics
Curtis huddles with his team in his first game as head coach on Nov. 7 when the Paladins defeated UNC Asheville 71-61.

Sports Editor Brock Eastman: Members of your program call you Coach P and speak highly of you. Where did you get that nickname, and how do you manage being a friendly and personable coach while also maintaining a culture of excellence?


Head Coach Pierre Curtis: I’ve always been called P or P. Curt. I’ve never been called Pierre or Curtis. When I first got here, I was 26, and Coach Curtis sounded too formal. It made me feel like I was old already. I had just worked (a youth skills) camp with some of the kids that I was going to be coaching, so it was easy to call me Coach P. It flows well but now, nobody even knows my last name at times.


If I’m called Coach Curtis, I know it’s a serious matter going on, and that’s funny. As far as the personal and professional, there are boundaries. I told the kids, “We’re going to have fun, but we got to know when it’s time to get to work.” They have done a good job knowing when it’s time to work or when they could joke. I’m a pretty light-hearted dude unless they’re just walking around, so I haven’t had that problem with my kids yet.


BE: What is something you have learned this season that is harder as a head coach than it was as an assistant coach?


PC: Managing people is a lot harder than I thought it would be, between the (players) or the staff, and managing expectations at times, too. After you get to winning four straight games, there’s sometimes these crazy high expectations. Then, after losing a couple, you have to learn that it is all about never getting too high or too low. 


BE: Your team has played some difficult matchups thus far (Appalachian State University, Georgia Tech, University of Kentucky and University of Georgia). What have you learned about your team and the way they continue to fight game in and game out, no matter who is lined up across from them?


PC: What I’ve learned is that we can compete with anybody for a short amount of time. We just haven’t put together that full game where we could pull (an upset) off. Against Georgia, we were in the game the whole time until boom, and we just dropped the ball a little bit. We’re learning that we’re talented enough to compete with anybody, but that we have to stay focused to put together a full game to beat those teams.


BE: Throughout your time on Furman’s staff, you’ve gotten to coach many great players and teams. How would you describe this team?


PC: Every team is different. This team is very talented. They’re one of the more talented teams that we’ve ever had, but they haven’t really had the time to gel as much as some of our other skillful teams. We had teams in the past playing three years together, but this team has been together for only one year because everybody was hurt last year. It’s different now because I’m the head coach and I know they have a lot of personality.


BE: If you could describe the program you are trying to build in three words, what would those words be and why are those so important?


PC: Three words to describe the program I’m trying to build are (1) tough, (2) disciplined, and (3) passionate. Tough speaks for itself. Mentally tough, physically tough, and just a tough team to come and play against day in and day out.


Passionate because you have to have fun doing it. If you guys were around me, you would know I have fun doing this. My energy is different. I’m not reserved in anything that I do; I’m very alive out there. I want my kids to be able to show their emotional side too.


Discipline was third. That, again, is self explanatory, right? We want to play the right way. What you see is what we’re supposed to do and not like we’re just out there, rolling the ball out (going through the motions). I want to be a disciplined team on and off the floor. A passionate team, both about the fans who support us and about the game we play. We’re getting there.


BE: As a former player yourself, how much influence do your own playing tendencies and past coaches have on the way you coach your team?


PC: A lot. We like to have five kids in double figures (10+ points). I was also a point guard, so I like to share the ball. I say whoever is open is the one who gets the ball. We run a lot of plays from when I played or from people that I played against. A lot of my playing career, from high school to overseas, helped mold who I am, so you could definitely see bits and pieces of each coach that I admired. My favorite coach(es) that I played against were Shaka Smart and James (Bruiser) Flint. That’s the route I want to go as far as who I am as a coach, and also with the types of teams I want to have.


BE: When you took over as head coach, was there any pressure to replace Jackie Carson, who was a Furman legend of her own? What did you learn from her that helps guide you?


PC: To answer the first part, anytime you replace someone who is the magnitude of her at this school, there’s going to be some pressure. A lot of the pressure I put on myself is regarding things off the floor. She was a great person, a great ambassador for the program, and for the school. That’s obviously a lot of pressure. But basketball wise, I try to be who I am and not worry about what we did before.


In 10 years with her, I’ve learned a lot, so of course there’s things in the program from her. We still have our mentoring program.. Basketball wise, there are still a couple of plays in the playbook from her. We have different styles, which allows me to not have as much pressure.


BE: What is one thing you would like to say to all of the Paladin fans reading this interview?


PC: Come and check us out! We play an exciting brand of basketball. Give us a shot, and if you like what you see, great. Enjoy it and come back. If you don’t like what you see, that’s on me. That’s all I ask, just come out and give us a chance. 


The Paladin Women’s basketball team (12-9, 2-3 SoCon) is back in action at Timmons Arena several more times this season, including games on:


Saturday, Feb. 12 vs. Western Carolina (5-16, 0-6 SoCon)

Thursday, Feb. 15 vs. Wofford (12-7, 4-1 SoCon)

Thursday, Feb. 29 vs. Chattanooga (17-3, 5-0 SoCon)


The interviewee’s responses have been edited for clarity.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Paladin

Your donation will support the student journalists of Furman University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Brock Eastman
Brock Eastman, Sports Editor
Brock Eastman is a junior from Summerville, SC. He is studying Biomedical Science and Religion on the pre-dental track. This is his first year with the paper and he’s excited to cover all of Furman’s teams and athletes. A fun fact about him is that he finished first in his age group in the Greenville Marathon two years ago.
Donate to The Paladin

Comments (0)

All The Paladin Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *