A Day in the Life of Lori Opp

By Gus Bode

A Day in the Life of Lori Opp

With only two home games remaining in the her third season as head coach of the Salukis, Lori Opp remains optimistic about how well the season could still end up.

The Dawgs are experiencing their sixth losing season with a record of 7-16 overall with a 3-11 mark in the Missouri Valley Conference.

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She said the season could still be saved if the team makes the conference tournament, but the team is looking to Bradley first.

Bradley travels to SIU today for a game at 7:05 p.m. in the SIU Arena.

This week, Lori Opp talked with Christopher Morrical of the Daily Egyptian to discuss the inner workings of a day in the life of a mid-major women’s basketball coach from practice to practice.

This is a day in the life of Lori Opp.

3:50 p.m. Practice begins

As soon as Opp stepped foot into the SIU Arena she was stopped for an interview by a reporter. When that was completed, the coach went around to her assistant coaches and had a few words with them.

The team was already on the court shooting around. Opp walked to center court along the sideline and watched the women practice lay-ups and free throws. Occasionally, a player would come over and give her a hug.

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By 3 p.m. she has practice underway. During a lay-up drill, Opp leaned against the padding below the hoop and made comments to the players on how they looked.

One drill involved a player dribbling down the side of the court. She passed the ball to assistant coach Staci Starkweather who stood on the Saluki logo. Getting the ball back, she dribbled to the hoop and took a shot, then did the same thing going back the other way.

Practice was ended early at 6:15 p.m. and the women headed back to the locker room to watch game tape. Unfortunately, the VCR in the women’s locker room doesn’t work, so the women used the men’s locker room.

The team sat through 20 minutes of tape from the last game they had with Bradley.

“The Bradley game, the last time we play at their place, we shot 23 percent,” Opp said. “You can imagine it wasn’t a very exciting tape to watch. We missed a lot of shots. In watching it, we talked a lot about how we can be successful against them and how we handled their pressure and didn’t struggle with their press.”

6:35 p.m. Post-practice activities

On a typical day, Opp leaves the office by 7 p.m. She would call recruits or return calls before leaving. She also uses the time after practice to call the players to check on injuries or any other problems the team might be having.

Tuesday night was different. Opp fielded a call from a recruit who is coming into Carbondale this weekend with her father.

“If recruiting is heavy, the work load can be heavier at the beginning of the year,” she said. “In the second part of the season, you’re breaking down tape or, if you have recruiting to continue doing, you’re in a routine.”

When she left the Arena, Opp, who already lives in Carbondale, went to look at another house she is thinking about buying in town. She looked at her potential new home for 45 minutes before driving in her white, 2001 Toyota Camry to Mississippi Flyway for a dinner with friends. She enjoyed ribs and fries as she discussed the house and her team.

“A nutrition-packed dinner,” she said laughing. “Low in calories, low in fat.”

At 9:45, Opp headed home. There she called a few of her players before catching the second half of the Channel 3 News. Then it was time for bed.

This was early for Opp – she usually doesn’t go to sleep until 2 or 3 a.m. She likes staying up watching television or reading a book.

She is reading the latest Harry Potter book.

6:30 a.m. In the morning…

The alarm clock rang and Opp pulled herself out of bed. After a shower she grabbed a Diet Coke and a strawberry breakfast bar on her way out to run errands.

She went to Wal-Mart to buy supplies for senior day – Saturday’s game against Northern Iowa.

She then drove to an elementary school to drop off “top secret” stuff to the principal. The team often goes to the school to participate in clinics. From there, she went to SIU.

9:45 a.m. Back to work

Once back in the office, Opp made a hotel reservation for the visiting recruit. She also made a follow-up call to the woman she hopes will become a Saluki.

She then finished up the scouting report for Bradley and made sure it was ready for distribution to the team. She also started working on a report for Northern Iowa.

After that, Opp watched more videotape of Bradley.

The coach usually takes this time to answer e-mail and talk to any of the players as they come in. She then talked to Jeff Honza of the Athletic Department about senior day and what she has planned.

12:30 p.m. Lunch and errands

At 12:30 p.m. it was time for lunch on the run. She stopped at McDonald’s for a fish sandwich, fries and a Diet Coke. She was on her way to Hobby Lobby to buy more supplies for senior day.

Then it was over to Dr. Brian Woodard’s office at Southern Illinois Spinal/Sports & Rehab Center at 1 p.m. for message therapy.

Back to the office by 2 p.m., Opp worked on a March calendar to give to the team, wrote a couple of follow-up letters and returned phone calls.

3 p.m. The circle is complete

When this was done, it was back to practice. Twenty-four hours had gone by and only 27 remained before the team was to take on Bradley.

After practice, the team got together and went bowling – a typical day before the game routine.

Reporter Christopher Morrical can be reached at [email protected]

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