Continual learning important to Trinity girls basketball coach


From putting together scouting reports to having his players execute the offenses and defenses to coaching the team to another sectional championship, Trinity Lutheran girls basketball coach Mike Lang enjoys every part of the game.

Lang graduated from Seymour High School in 1989. He was a member of Seymour’s 1988 state championship baseball team but did not play basketball in high school.

After graduating from Indiana University Southeast in 1994, he returned to Seymour and began his business career and coaching.

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“Ken Roth approached me about coaching one of his sixth-grade basketball teams (at Immanuel Lutheran), and the year I did that, Donna (Sullivan) came to me and asked me if I would coach one of her high school AAU teams,” Lang said.

“So it all kind of happened in the same year (1995),” he said. “I was fortunate enough to be around two great people in Mr. Roth and still being around Sull and around a lot of people that know a lot about the game.”

Lang coached at Immanuel for five years.

After that, Scott Miller, former Seymour Owls boys basketball head coach, contacted him.

“He asked me to be a part of his staff, which I was for 10 years,” Lang said. “I coached freshmen for half that time, and then I moved into the role of varsity assistant for the other half. I got to be around Scott and all the other coaches there and really enjoyed my time doing that.”

He took one year off before coming to Trinity. He is in his eighth year as head coach of the Trinity girls, where he has compiled a record of 113-62.

“I took one year off, and I was miserable,” Lang said, “Andy Royalty and Aaron Rudzinski approached me about applying for the girls job that was open here. I applied for it, and I’ve been here ever since.”

Lang coached the Cougars to a sectional championship last season and also won sectionals in 2013 and 2014. The Cougars advanced to the regional finals in 2018.

He said he is always looking to improve his coaching.

“The thing is you always have to be a student of the game,” Lang said. “You take a lot in, from not only the coaches you worked with, but the ones you observed, the ones you become friends with. You really establish a coaching network, and you share a lot of things. You pick a lot of people’s brains.

“The one thing I took away from Scott from the discipline standpoint is that it doesn’t matter who you are, you treat all your kids fairly,” Lang said. “Everybody is held accountable the same, from top to bottom. That’s the one thing I always admired about Scott. The other part I took away from him was just his ability and in-depth how much he prepared for games. I really admired that aspect from him.”

Having Sullivan on his coaching staff has meant a lot to Lang. This is her third year with him at Trinity, and she is the junior varsity coach.

“Just being around Sull every day is a wealth of knowledge,” Lang said. “I’m always asking her questions and just learning. You’ve always got to be learning. You take things in from everybody you’re around and you study the game, and that’s kind of what I’ve done to adapt.”

Lang said he changes his coaching from season to season to feature the team’s strengths.

“They always ask what your coaching philosophy is. The thing is our coaching philosophy changes every year,” he said. “We can’t expect the kids to change to us. We have to change to what our personnel is because our roster is going to change every year.”

Trinity has upgraded its schedule over the years. This season, the Cougars will play one Class 4A team, four class 3A teams, five Class 2A schools and 10 Class A ball clubs.

“Coach Rob (Sipe) and I talked a lot about where our schedule was when we got here and where it’s at now,” Lang said. “I think we were 99 percent all 1A schools on our schedule, and we realized if we wanted to grow this program the way we wanted to, we had to improve our schedule. We had to get out and schedule the bigger schools.”

As the roster has grown and the program has improved, Lang said a lot of the bigger schools want to play Trinity.

“That’s a lot of fun,” he said. “We don’t care what number is in front of that letter A. We’re just going to go out and play the game. Whoever our opponent is, that’s who it’s going to be. One thing we know, there is never going to be a banner hung (in the gym) for going 24-0 during the regular season.

“I’ve really subscribed to the philosophy to what (Indianapolis) Cathedral football does. They don’t mind going .500 during the regular season as long as it prepares them to make a run at state, and that’s our goal, to make a run at state.”

Lang said he relies a lot on his assistant coaches.

“I have been blessed to have Rob by my side,” Lang said. “Rob started with me all the way back at Immanuel, came to Trinity with me, took a couple years off and now, I’ve been blessed to have him back for three years. He and Donna both are not afraid to tell me if I’m wrong or what they’re seeing and express their opinions because an assistant is no good in my book if they’re just ‘yes’ people.

“Between Rob and Donna and Mary (Jaynes), they’re always in my ears when we’re talking about different things and different philosophies. But ultimately, it’s going to be what I feel is best for the team coming out of a timeout, and we’ll make sure we all agree on something.”

Lang said he has enjoyed coaching his daughter, Emilee, who is a senior.

“It’s one of the most enjoyable, one of the most painful things to coach your own kid,” Lang said. “There are times, I feel, she gets a lot of unnecessary pressure because of what her last name is, but she comes out here, she works hard.”

Emilee went through a tough year last season with injuries.

“We’ve got her back this year, and with her not playing her junior year, to get her back out here her senior year, it has meant a lot to me, and it has meant a lot to her,” he said.

“We just want to make this senior year as special as we can for both of us,” he said. “One thing we don’t want to do is take the practice home with us, but if I know who she is going to be guarding in a game, I’ll say, ‘OK, Emilee, we’ll hang out and we’ll go watch film for half an hour a couple nights a week’ and let her get a good idea.’”

Lang said sometimes, a coach has to hold back on some things and not have the team overprepared.

“One thing Sull got on me a little bit last year was maybe I had the girls too overprepared at times, and we’d get in there and we kind of put them on overload a little bit,” he said. “The other part of it is, with the roster we have right now, I spend a lot of time trying to focus and stop other teams, but I’ve also got to realize teams have to spend a lot of time trying to stop us.

“That’s the fun part, getting out there and going through the Xs and Os and just seeing what other teams run. Sometimes, we’ll take a little bit of what they do. It keeps your mind sharp. It makes the game fun.”

Lang preaches to his kids to focus on one game at a time.

“You take it one day at a time,” he said. “Like we told the girls the other night, we had a big road win, but that’s over, and now, it’s time to move on to the next one. And that’s the way I look at what I’m doing here.”

Lang looks forward to the remainder of this season.

“This team has a lot of talent,” he said. “They’ve worked hard. They’re improving each and every day. The thing that is the most pleasurable for me coming into the gym every day is there is no drama. They get along, they have fun together and that is satisfying and gratifying for me as a coach.”

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