By Charles Hallman
Her players haven’t as yet called her “Coach,” but Kachine Alexander says she can’t wait for one of them to challenge her to a game of one-on-one.
“I think most players still call me ‘Cash,’ admits the first-year Concordia University assistant women’s basketball coach. “They’ve been itching for me to play with them ever since I’ve got here. I keep telling them they don’t want those problems.”
Alexander’s playing pedigree suggests, however, that the CU players might want to reevaluate their itches: a prep standout at Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School, an all-state and all-metro performer, and a Minnesota Miss Basketball finalist in 2007. Then she went to Iowa, where Alexander was the first-ever Big Ten player to post two triple-doubles in a season as a sophomore.
In her junior year, the 5-9 guard was the nation’s best rebounder to average at least 10 boards a game as an under-six-foot player. She finished her Hawkeye career as a twice-all-conference first team and all-defensive team member.
Alexander also was a 2011 WNBA draftee (28th overall) but ended up overseas. “I wasn’t too keen on [playing] overseas” admits the Minneapolis native after a six-game season in Austria (2011-12).
However, the opportunity to coach soon came calling. She already was familiar with Concordia, a Division II school in the St. Paul Midway area. “Last year, when I came here for a break, I was on one of their scout teams,” recalls Alexander. Her work with and coaching of the Golden Bears players left an impression on Coach Paul Fessler, who later hired her as an assistant coach.
“I always wanted to be a coach,” continues Alexander — she once worked with an uncle who coached an AAU sixth-grade traveling team. “I was an assistant coach for him, and that’s when I started thinking I want to do this. Then, in my freshman year, [Coach] Lisa Bluder at Iowa kind of hinted that was the direction I wanted to go.
“I was always that coach on the court, knowing everybody’s position on the court,” says Alexander.
Among her duties on the staff: “I take care of food, travel and all the scout [teams],” she notes. “I do everything else that needs to be done in the office.”
More importantly, as a coach she’s learning more about the game she loves. “You always think you know so much, but yet you really only know half. So I think that’s the best part of coaching basketball — you get to learn new stuff every day.”
Furthermore, Alexander says, “I know as a player what I wanted to know as a scout, and that helped me out. I think that what helps me a lot as a coach [is that] I used to play, and I know how difficult it is to get around a screen.”
She eventually wants to pursue a master’s degree, possibly in sports management, “but later, when I get my feet wet in the whole [coaching] thing,” says Alexander. “The number one question [people ask] is do I miss playing. At the beginning it was hard, but as of right now, I’m still contributing but in different ways. I had to learn how to contribute other than being on the court.
“This is my first step” as a coach, surmises Alexander. “I think it is a great first step for me. My goal is to be a Division I head coach at some point, and I think with connections… It doesn’t hurt when people know your name. I got to learn as much as I can and soak it in. I started young, so I have plenty of time to get to where I want to get to.
“The [collegiate] coaching life…you got to get in when you can get in, because it doesn’t come around that often.”
NOTE: After every Concordia men’s and women’s basketball home game, a Golden Bears player is named the Kwame McDonald Player of the Game in honor of the late MSR senior sports columnist.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.