Montana assistant coach Jay Flores injects Griz with energy, optimism | Helena Independent Record

Pay attention to what this young coach is doing at the University of Montana. Jay Flores is in his first year as assistant coach for the men’s basketball team after being moved up from the director of operations position, but he still performs many of the duties associated with his old job. All of this is in addition to his pursuit of a Master’s degree. Oh yeah – and he recently got married! Now there’s a busy young man.

MISSOULA — Jay Flores liked the intensity he was seeing from freshman Kelby Kramer.

The Montana men’s basketball assistant coach ran through drills with the redshirting center after the team’s Dec. 13 practice at Dahlberg Arena. They worked on passing through the paint and stepping past imaginary defenders. They then moved to pump fakes and hook shots.

“Have some imagination,” Flores exclaimed during the session of hook shots. “This is where you can have some personality in your game.”

“Yes, that’s big time,” Flores yelled with excitement after Kramer collected a pass and finished with a dunk.

After they both worked up a sweat, they closed the 15-minute individual workout by Kramer setting screens and then rolling to the basket.

Flores, who is in his second year with the program, is known for his energy and positive outlook. That’s how the first-year Griz assistant coach is able to try to get the most out of players while coaching out of position, balance the duties of two jobs and work on earning his master’s degree during the season.

And he does it without any sort of coffee or energy drinks. Water does the job.

“Before I started coaching, I had an internship at a desk job where I worked 9-5,” Flores said. “There was one day, because I can’t sit and punch numbers in all day, so I almost fell asleep that day at work. I tried to have a sip of coffee that day, but it was just disgusting. The main thing I try to do to have energy is work out, get my blood pumping.”

Before coming to Montana, Flores was a conference MVP guard at Division II Chico State, where Griz associate head coach Chris Cobb was an assistant coach. After one year playing in a Mexican league, he coached guards for three seasons as an assistant coach at Cal State East Bay.

He now has a different challenge at Montana coaching the post players. He spent the 2016-17 season as the director of basketball operations, and in what was essentially a redshirt year, he learned how head coach Travis DeCuire wants his forwards and centers to play.

“My two favorite things are basketball and relationships,” Flores said. “When I can combine both of them, I get excited most days to come into practice and try to get people going.

“Some days as a player, it’s hard to come back from a game and get yourself going in practice. If I can get one player going every day, I feel like I did a good job as a coach.”

Players rave about Flores’ liveliness and intensity on the court. It’s the niche he’s carved out among the coaching staff.

“He’s determined every day in practice to have the most energy, be the most positive. It really is contagious,” senior forward Fabijan Krslovic said. “He’s not afraid to challenge guys if they’re flat or faking it.”

Added forward Jamar Akoh: “His energy is contagious, gets us going. I do a lot of skill work with him one on one. He helps me with little things you can’t see, like my footwork and my jab game. He grinds and knows what he’s talking about.”

“Energy and optimism stand out the most,” DeCuire said. “You see it in camp with the kids. You see it with our team. He hammers academics, which is a great time to have. Very impactful to the program.”

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