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From travel to tapes, student aids team

Feb. 14, 2001

Assistant to men's basketball readies team for opponents

By REESE MILER

Reporter

Coming off of a major upset over the University of Kansas, the Baylor men's basketball team was hard at work Tuesday watching film of both Monday's game and of upcoming opponent Oklahoma. Graduate Assistant Matt Vitek made this possible.

In his office, Vitek looks to the casual observer to be catching up on the games that he didn't get to see last week, but he is actually studying.

Vitek is a graduate student who also works for the men's basketball team. He assists in setting up travel arrangements for the team and opponents. He also gets videos of the upcoming opponents for the coaches, as well as scheduling practice times when the Bears are on the road and at home.

Vitek began his collegiate basketball career at the State University of New York's community college. After playing at SUNY for two years, he decided to leave basketball, and New York, to head back to his family and to the University of New Mexico.

When he became a student at UNM, Vitek began to feel the familiar urge to once again become involved in basketball.

'One day, I decided that I wanted to be a part of the New Mexico basketball program,' Vitek said, 'and I decided to go to the basketball office and see if they needed any help. I spoke to assistant Coach (Ron) Garcia, and he told me that he did need some help, so I became a part of the program at UNM.'

At the start of his career off of the court, Vitek helped set up practice and the locker room, and handled other odds and ends.

Vitek said that during his first season at UNM, Ron Garcia was the video coordinator at New Mexico, as well as an assistant coach, and he needed some extra help.

Vitek began his career in the video editing room, which 'was just a little bit bigger than a closet,' Vitek said. Vitek helped analyze game tapes and obtained film from other schools that were on the Lobos' schedule.

Bears head Coach Dave Bliss offered Vitek the job at Baylor in the summer of 1999. Vitek said he was excited to finish his degree here, and still be learning from Coach Bliss.

'Matt was a huge part of our program in New Mexico,' said assistant Coach Brian O'Neill. 'He was extremely helpful in our scouting and in running the computer systems that we use to break down the tapes.'

Vitek said there were specific areas they focus on when watching film.

'What we look for on each tape initially is the way the opponent will run their offense against specific defensive set-ups.

Coach O'Neill and I draw up our next opponents' plays so that the scout team can run them to give our defense a good look at what they will be up against in the next game.'

Vitek has racked up many frequent flyer miles because of his love for basketball. He has seen Honolulu, Las Vegas, Seattle and Los Angeles, but he said he feels that there is no better place to live than Waco.

After finishing his degree in communications in May, Vitek could have gone out into the workforce, but he decided to continue his tutelage under Bliss. He is now going to graduate school to get his master's degree.

Vitek's class schedule begins at 8 a.m. Monday through Thursday. After class he goes straight to the Ferrell Special Events Center to begin his day at work. After checking his messages, he meets with Bliss to see what he needs off of the tapes of the previous days practices. He then looks at films of the upcoming opponent of the Bears.

The rigors of balancing his basketball responsibilities and his graduate work seem to be difficult, but Vitek said he does it to make himself 'a better person in the future.'

O'Neill said that the coaching staff does understand that Vitek has a heavy load because he has a responsibility in the classroom, as well as a full time job working for the basketball team.

'He also has a great feel of what Coach Bliss wants so he can save a lot of problems because he gets it done right the first time,' O'Neill said.