Athletics: Getting to the bottom of 'Gally'

Dave Galovich is unique in that he gets to celebrate two Christmas Days. For 41 years Galovich has been a boys basketball coach and has accumulated a career record of 718-338 for fifth all-time in Minnesota high school history. He's in the Minnes...

Crosby-Ironton head coach Dave Galovich goes over the gameplan during a game earlier this season at Pequot Lakes. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
Crosby-Ironton head coach Dave Galovich goes over the gameplan during a game earlier this season at Pequot Lakes. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Dave Galovich is unique in that he gets to celebrate two Christmas Days.

For 41 years Galovich has been a boys basketball coach and has accumulated a career record of 718-338 for fifth all-time in Minnesota high school history. He's in the Minnesota Basketball Coaches' Association Hall of Fame, the Crosby-Ironton High School Hall of Fame and the Mesabi Range Community College Hall of Fame, to name a few.

He's coached nine teams to the Minnesota State Basketball Tournament with four runner-up finishes.

The retired social studies teacher, husband and father of four was draining answers like his favorite Serbian-born NBA player used to drain 3-pointers.



Question: According to former Chisholm head coach Bob McDonald, you had a pretty sweet jump shot back in the day. In your opinion, what was your best asset as a basketball player?


Dave Galovich: I hope my best asset as a basketball player was being a great teammate. All I cared about is the team winning and knowing I did everything within my role to contribute to the team's success. I hope I was a player that made an effort in every practice and every game, to do all of the things that my teammates loved and opponents hated.


Q: Your family is from Serbia, which is why you celebrate Serbian Christmas Jan. 7. Who was the better Serbian NBA player: Peja Stojakovic or Vlade Divac?


DG: I have to go with Peja. I like the fact that at 6-foot-10 he played a small forward and shot the 3-point shot very well. Vlade was a great passer and playmaker at 7-1, but Peja had a few more accolades at both the NBA and European level.



Q: You've coached in some big games in the regular season, section and regionals and at state against some big rivals and big names. What is one game that really sticks out to you and the one you'll remember the most?


DG: There are two games that stick out to me. In 1987, we beat DeLaSalle in triple overtime in the region finals. That ended an 18-year drought of C-I not being in the state tournament. Our communities were unbelievably excited after that Region final win.

The second game that is very memorable, is beating Hawley in the state semifinals in 1987. They were undefeated, extremely talented and very well coached. Before the start of the state tournament, the media was saying it would have been a good year for a one class basketball tournament because Hawley defeated Moorhead, Duluth East and other AA schools during the season and many believed they were the best team in the state.


Q: You've coached in four state championship games. What were some similarities between those teams that made them so good? And what is one-or two traits-of a great team?


DG: All of those teams had a great work ethic. They put in the time in the offseason improving their skills and strength. We always say you have to earn a lot of private victories (being in the gym and weight room when only you, your teammates and coaches are around), before you get public victories. Those teams were committed. They also had great chemistry, leadership and the desire to win.


Traits of a great team: They play hard. They play together and they play smart.


Q: If you could create your own team-pro, college or high school-what's the first position you would fill and what traits would that player need for you to select them first?


DG: I would select a point guard first. He would have to have a high basketball IQ, be a great leader, have good court vision and be a very good decision-maker. In addition, a point guard has to have great ball handling and passing skills, be a good 3-point shooter and also be able to score by getting to the basket off dribble penetration. By having all of those skills, the point guard puts a lot of pressure on the defense and creates a lot of scoring opportunities for his teammates. On defense, he needs to be a great on-ball defender.


Q: Has the game of high school basketball changed that much in your coaching tenure and which changes would you like to see?



DG: I don't know if the game itself has changed that much. Some of the things we do today, we did 34 years ago when I first came to C-I. However, the opportunities for kids to play have greatly expanded. Players can now participate in fall, spring and summer leagues. AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) has given athletes another avenue to participate in and coaches can now coach in the months of June and July. These are major changes that weren't available when I first started coaching. I'm not a fan of playing basketball year-round. I think it's important to participate in other sports, have other teammates and be coached by other coaches.

One change I would definitely like to see is the addition of a 35-second shot clock. Both the Boys and Girls coaches associations are in favor of the shot clock and I believe it's only a matter of time before it's implemented.


Q: While you were growing up, which players did you admire and who did you try to emulate your game after?


DG: A player I admired at a young age was Jerry West. I thought his offensive skill set was amazing. He was also a great defensive player and was nicknamed "Mr. Clutch" for his ability to make a big play at a critical time of the game.

As an elementary and junior high kid we really looked up to the high school players and tried to emulate some of their moves. In high school, I thought John Havlicek's overall game and the role he played was special.



Q: I know you've coached baseball at Crosby-Ironton in the past, but if you weren't a basketball coach, what sport do you think you would have chosen to coach?


DG: During my teaching/coaching career, I have coached basketball, boys golf, girls tennis, football and baseball. A little-known fact: when I was a kid, I played hockey for the Kinney Falcons. Maybe I would be coaching hockey. Surprised?


Q: Your zone defense continues to give opposing teams fits. What is it about that defense that causes so many problems for teams?


DG: I don't know if it is the zone defense as much as it is the players who are executing it. Good players make a good defense. However, I do feel there are some advantages of a zone. The zone defense requires less teaching and practice time than man-to-man. Thus, more time is available to develop individual offensive skills and to refine team offense. I also feel the zone is a great equalizer when competing against superior talent. It gives you the ability to control tempo and slow down the more talented/athletic teams. Also, zone offensive attacks are fewer in number than man-to-man attacks and typically are very similar in scope, which contributes to the zone's effectiveness.



Q: You're a big University of Minnesota sports fan. What's it going to take for the men's basketball program to become a traditional powerhouse?


DG: Recruiting. We need to get the best players in Minnesota to stay home and then get some top recruits throughout the country to commit to the U. Easier said than done. The completion of the University's Athletes Village, with its first-class academic, athletic and leadership performance centers should be a great attraction during the recruiting process.


Q: Should there be separate private and public school state tournaments?


DG: I remember as a kid, there was separate private and public school state tournaments. That changed around 1974 when private schools were accepted into the Minnesota State High School League.

I think a lot of people would like to see separate state tournaments because of some of the advantages that the private schools have. But, I don't think there will be a change in the near future.


Q: Breweries have popped up everywhere in the past five years. Rumor has it you're a consumer of the barley beverage. What's your take on all these breweries?


DG: Sorry breweries, I am an old-fashioned Iron Range guy. No craft beer for me.

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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