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Ed Persia interview.

Two weeks ago Ed Persia '04 was home in Texas, sending out resumes and trying to land a coaching job.

A lot can change in two weeks.

When I caught Persia on the phone today, he had just finished his first day teaching at Cherokee High School in Cherokee, North Carolina, where he was recently named the Braves' new men's basketball coach.

The former Princeton guard, who sits 8th in the Tiger record books with 144 made three pointers for his career, took the time to answer questions about his new gig and his life since leaving Princeton. Our interview can be found after the jump.

When did you get to North Carolina and what are you teaching?

I got here about two weeks ago and it has been a hectic move. I'm teaching U.S. History, a Strength and Conditioning class and Street Law.

What's Street Law?

We're trying to figure that out.

Fair enough. How did this job come together? I know you've wanted to get into coaching for a while.

I had a little bit of a sour experience at SMU last season (Persia resigned his position on the Mustangs' staff mid-year - JS) and just realized from that experience I wanted to get into a situation as quickly as possible where I was the one in control. I don't mean that being a control freak, I just had a bunch of ideas that I wanted to implement on my own on the court.

At SMU I was only able to do it behind closed doors, in the conference room. After I willingly got out of that job I told myself I thought I would be a lot happier having an immediate influence or impact on kids and being on the court, being the one drawing up the Xs and Os.

What are some of those ideas?

You can probably guess the game plan that I'm going to be going with! It is just everything that I learned at Princeton and I'm just going to have to adapt it to my talent level. I'm not exactly sure how that is going to work out but I think when you come through Princeton you realize there is just one proper way to play basketball.

We aim to do that at the highest level while we're at Princeton but that doesn't mean the philosophy can't be broken down to different steps that can be taught to every level of ability.

Have you met with any of the players yet? Do you have sense of the quality of team you're inheriting?

I have no idea what I am inheriting. I know that they won just six games last year, but I know that this is a town that rallies around their athletics. I think they sell out all their home games here. They have an incredible high school with a gym that is comparable to a small D-I or D-II school. I'm excited about it.

I've met just one of the players that is a returning starter. He is about a 6'8" kid with a ponytail down to his mid back. Having that at a IA school is exciting nonetheless even though I've never seen him play.

It is a while until the year starts, but what expectations do you have for your first season as a head coach?

My expectations are to win right away. That was my mentality as a player and that's the mentality that I'm going to expect from whoever I'm coaching too. I'm not sure how they're going to take to my new basketball philosophies, but I know over time it has no choice but to work because I've seen it work first-hand on myself and the different teams I've been involved with. Last year I saw it work with the SMU staff, which I helped implement a bunch of the Princeton stuff with and those were guys who had never had any experience with it whatsoever.

Do you feel the time you spent in Italy as a player and as a scout has helped prepare you in a different way for coaching than playing at Princeton might have?

It's weird. I feel like everything that I've been through as a player and in my brief stint in coaching has groomed me to be a coach. I don't know why that it is but it is just a feeling I just have deep down inside. Maybe it comes from just me having to work my way out of little Beaumont, Texas. For some reason I felt like maybe I had to work a little bit harder to be seen.

I just feel like through my Princeton experience - there were a lot of ups and downs while I was there - but one thing that always held true was the philosophy that Coach Thompson taught us. The basketball part of it always made sense to me, it has always stuck with me.

I guess it is just the fact there were five guys who were non-scholarship players that could come together and compete with anybody in the nation.

You were back in Texas for a while. How has the adjustment been and what were you doing before coming to Cherokee?

Just job hunting! After I got done at SMU I took about a month or two off to clear my head. You always have crazy things going on when you get through with a not-so-good experience. I let things clear and that's when I came to the realization that I wanted to get a head coaching job no matter what level it was at and I was willing to wait however long I needed to make that happen unless it was just a great situation at a college program.

I was just throwing out resumes and on the grind trying to make it happen for a couple months. It is funny how things happen. I had never even heard of Cherokee before they gave me a call and here I am two weeks later.

The transition has been easy. The people here are phenomenal and so helpful in trying to make me comfortable. I think they're as excited to have me as I am to have them and I think good things are going to happen.

One thing is for sure - the Smokey Mountains are as beautiful of a place as you could want to live. That makes things a lot easier, especially when you're coming from the 110 degree heat of Texas.

Did you find yourself at SMU, or even thinking about this job now, saying or doing things that you then realize were things Princeton coaches said or did when you were a player?

It is probably something I wouldn't even realize as it was coming out. I got so comfortable saying these different types of things being a point guard there for four years that I almost felt like I was a coach on the floor at some points. That terminology, after you're there for a couple years, is almost ingrained into you.

When can you start working with players? When does the season get going?

We can start doing stuff September 1st. It is kind of similar to a college schedule - we can work with four players at a time, which is comparable to individual workouts. We can do that until the regular season practices start, which is like a month after that and the first game is in early November or late October.

I'm excited to see how this job goes for you. Congratulations on becoming a head coach and best of luck.

I'm excited too. I appreciate you giving me the time.

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