Overton brings national championship trophy “home”

Oklahoma City University Head Coach Glenn “Bo” Overton listens to one of his players during a time out. Overton, named top athlete in Oklahoma in 1979 while playing for the Ada Cougars. Photo courtesy Chickasaw Nation.

Chickasaw Nation Media Relations

OKLAHOMA CITY – Fresh off a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national championship – not to mention being named NAIA Division I Coach of the Year – Glenn “Bo” Overton is looking forward to the future.

The Chickasaw citizen’s Oklahoma City University (OCU) women’s basketball team claimed the top spot in national competition in March. Overton’s team captured their first national championship under his watchful eye with an impressive 73-66 win over Lewis-Clark State College of Lewiston, Idaho.

Overton became OCU head coach in 2015.

In late March, Overton traveled west to Phoenix to enjoy the “Final Four” competition for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national championship, with hopes of seeing underdog Gonzaga – a Spokane, Washington team – take top honors. “I would like to see a team like Gonzaga, who has been there for years and years, step up and make it happen.” (Gonzaga fell just short, losing 71-65 April 3 to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the national title game.)

As for his team, almost the entire squad is returning next year and Overton is thrilled. “I really like this team that is coming back. The core of the national championship team is returning. We’re excited about our prospects.”

Overton’s reputation as a player and coach has seen him crisscross the world; each new “home” both enjoyable and challenging whether in China, Russia, the Bahamas or America, he said.

“We’re (OCU) a smart team,” Overton said of his squad. “We don’t want other teams to get easy baskets. We want them to earn it. It sounds easy, but it is difficult. You have to work on transition defense and being organized. These are things we work on every day,” he said. “We work on rebounding. You don’t want to give them second chances. You have to be skilled with the ball on offense. You don’t want to turn the ball over or foul players so they get extra shots.

“If you’re going to play us, you’ve got to earn it,” he added. “We’re not going to give you anything easy.”

HARD WORK PAYS OFF

Overton has been called a “player’s coach.” It is fitting, especially when he begins speaking of how important it is to work and prepare for moments that may occur once in a lifetime.

“When you put the work in (the) players do, in the classroom and on the court, some of them have been preparing for this their whole life,” he observed. “When you can watch them and see all that happen for them, it is very special. When I saw them jumping up and down, holding that trophy up, seeing how proud they were and how proud the school was, it was something that just doesn’t compare with anything else.

“Then they got to watch how proud (Oklahoma City) was and then the whole state. We were getting calls from (Gov. Mary Fallin), from OCU President Robert Henry, from the Chickasaw Nation … I mean just how proud everybody was … you can’t measure that,” Overton explained. “And with things the way they are today, the team was getting texts, tweets and praise on social media. It was just great.

“They had a smile on their face for days … well, I think the smiles are still there.”

FROM STAR TO COACH

Overton’s coaching style is a culmination of experiences from listening to his father, Claudell, who coached Oklahoma City’s Capitol Hill High School, to being in the company of coaching greats across the nation. In a 1999 interview with The Oklahoman, he listed former University of Oklahoma (OU) football coach Barry Switzer and former Oklahoma State University storied basketball coach Henry Iba as huge influencers.

As a 1979 Ada High School senior, he was named The Oklahoman and Tulsa World High School Player of the Year and received the Jim Thorpe Award as the top athlete in Oklahoma.

He was a letterman at OU playing point guard for coaching greats Dave Bliss and Billy Tubbs. At OU, Overton set records – for minutes played, assists and free-throw percentage. When he graduated, he was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1983 and played professional ball a few years before dedicating himself to coaching.

Overton returned to Chickasaw Country to start his coaching career. He was head men’s basketball coach and athletic director at Murray State College in Tishomingo. Coaching men, Overton also was an assistant at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa; Texas State at San Marcos, and Louisiana Tech, located at Ruston in the northern part of the state.

When OU women’s head coach Sherri Coale needed an assistant in 1998, Overton joined the squad.

From 1998-2004, Overton contributed to Oklahoma’s dominant program. OU went 143-54 with five NCAA Tournament bids, three NCAA Sweet 16 appearances, a 2002 NCAA Final Four berth, a 1999 Women’s National Invitational Tournament appearance, three Big 12 regular-season titles and two conference tournament crowns. OU had five all-Americans and three Big 12 player of the year recipients during that time.

“Bo knows basketball,” Coale said in 2015 when Overton accepted the OCU job. “He was an integral part of our 2002 run to the national championship game. Oklahoma is his home, and OCU is a natural fit.”

INTERNATIONAL FAME

Oklahoma may be his home, but Overton spent a great deal of time in locations one would not immediately associate with basketball, such as assistant coach for the Chinese national team in the 2012 Olympics.

Overton has been a head coach on both college and professional levels, leading Dynamo Kursk in Russia; Guangdong and Liaoning of the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association; the Chicago Sky of the Women’s National Basketball Association in 2007 and Missouri-Kansas City from 2004-06. He also served as assistant for the Bahama national team.

Experiences abroad solidified his “player’s coach” persona.

“The different cultures of people and their beliefs (abroad) were difficult. It was hard for me to make them understand you don’t have to train athletes as hard as they do,” Overton said reflecting back on his time overseas.

“Their thinking is ‘more is better.’ More jumping, more running, more, more, more. I tried to tell them ‘you’re wearing out the bodies of the athletes.’ They wouldn’t listen to me, of course, but I tried to hit a happy medium.

“When one of the general managers wasn’t paying attention, I would try to take care of the players. I think the players (understood) that and knew I had their best interest in mind. I still have many friends overseas and many of my former players send me messages. I try to always give them reason to smile,” Overton said.

Concerning his job at OCU, Overton said “I have a lot of ‘tribe’ at OCU, not just basketball, but baseball and all of the scholastic athletes we have. You know, growing up in Oklahoma is one of the main pieces in my life. Ada has a lot of pride in their athletics. The (AHS) girls played in the state tournament this year. I am proud to be a part of (Ada’s) winning tradition.”