LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Ronald “Chin” Coleman has been on the job for less than a week, but has already gotten a taste of what it’s like to be an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky.
“This place is on steroids — it is different,” he said. “It hits different. I understand the dynamics of that. Having Coach (Orlando) Antigua, who has been through it all already before, to kind of help me with the transition is also a very, very good opportunity for me to have someone who has been through it, who has experience with it, instead of going along and going through it without any of that.”
Coleman joined John Calipari’s staff last week following four seasons at Illinois. He also has coached at UIC, Bradley, Nebraska and Colorado State. During his time with the Illini, Coleman became acquainted with Antigua, who rejoined the Kentucky coaching staff for a second stint last week.
“Our connection is unbelievable,” he said. “We’re really, really tight and we’re like brothers. We’re able to work really well alongside one of another, and that just makes for a strong union. But I don’t know about it being a packaged deal or not. I think that each individual ran his own race and came to a decision that was best for both of us and we wound up, again, at the same spot.”
Coleman and Antigua agreed the two coaches weren’t part of a package deal, but rather both coaches fit the criteria Calipari was looking for during a search to replace Tony Barbee and Joel Justus.
“I think that it just so happened that our profiles and what Coach Cal wanted at the time just so happened to be on the same staff,” Coleman said. “I don’t think it was a packaged deal. I think that Coach Antigua handled his situation and his decision that he made in his lane and I handled my situation and my decision in my own lane. We kind of run our own race in terms of making executive decisions, although it didn’t hurt the fact that he and I have an unbelievable chemistry.”
Antigua agreed with Coleman’s assessment of the friendship between the two coaches.
“Chin and I are great friends,” Antigua said. “We are great colleagues. But everything is based individually on every person’s families, needs and perspective. So, my reasons for wanting to come back are way different than Chin’s reasons for wanting to join and be a part of this experience.”
While pondering his future, Coleman sought advice from Antigua on what it’s like to coach for the Wildcats.
“I told him this is Camelot,” Antigua said. “This Camelot — it’s the winningest program in college history. Those things are easy to sell.”
Coleman plans on building on the program’s foundation as he settles into his role with the Wildcats and wants to help the school win more championships in the future.
“That’s what this place is about and that’s what we plan on giving a championship effort,” he said. “Now, we may not win many, many, many, many, many championships, but I guarantee you our effort and of course my effort will be at a championship level. I’m unapologetic about that.”
As for his own attributes, Coleman values his relationships with the players.
“I think that my strengths come from a lot of different places, but if I had to narrow it down, obviously it would be my relationships with the players, my player development, my skills, my training,” he said.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.