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June 10, 2017

Denise Cudden

Denise Cudden

Denise A. Cudden (DiBacco)

School: Catholic Central HS, Class of 1990 (Troy, NY)
School: Colgate University, Class of 1994
Hometown:  Watervliet, NY

Honors and Awards: Denise holds three top spots in Women’s Basketball records from Colgate University in the following categories.

  • Assist Average
  • Assists
  • Most Assists

NOTE FROM MO:  Denise is right.  We are made from the same upstate New York stock.  Denise grew up in a neighboring town that was in our CYO league.  Our teams were fierce competitors in every Sunday CYO game starting around grade five.  Denise’s dad and my father were coaches, and they were the ones who set a high intensity bar to the point where that level of passion, guts and effort was all we knew.  Nothing less was acceptable.  Coaches Denise and Meg (my sister) both played college ball, and Denise coached at the college level for 13 years.  Our girls’ grade 3-4 division is fortunate to have these two experienced leaders and role models both on and off the court.  On the court, you’ll see them competing and pushing and believing in all of the girls.  Off the court, you’ll see them working together, supporting our program and being great working mothers who are juggling their responsibilities to their families and workplaces while spending their free time coaching in our program.  We are lucky to have Denise, who has been with Mo’ Motion since season 1.

How long have you been coaching? If you count coaching during summer camps, then since 1991 or since 1994, and  I coached collegiate level for 13 years.

What do you love most about coaching? Teaching fundamentals in practice, and the strategies behind great game play.

Who is your favorite basketball player and why?  Sue Bird.  I love how she controls the game and how hard she works.

Which college and/or pro team is your favorite and why?  Men – UNC – that’s easy. Dean Smith and Roy Williams. There are so many awesome players, too many to list.  Women – Villanova/UConn.  I love the discipline in how they run their stuff. Not a huge fan of the pro game. I loved the Sixers and Dr. J when younger.  I appreciate what the Spurs do.

When did you know that basketball was your favorite sport? Good question! It’s the first sport I was exposed to as a coach’s daughter, and watching older siblings play. I couldn’t wait for my turn. So at a very very young age, I just knew.

Why is it your favorite sport? I love the intense, competitive nature of the sport both individually and as a team.  I love the mental game as much as the physical. It’s hard to say but when I am on the court, I want to win. It makes me happy to teach.   

What was the greatest moment of your career as a player? Winning the Class A Section II championship, and then following up the next year as runner-up, knocking off the No. 1 seed.  I loved any time we beat Shen. In college, favorite moments included beating Army on senior night, and senior year, setting the game assist record.

What was the greatest moment of your career as a coach? Too many to choose one.

What is your greatest challenge on the basketball court? My height. 🙂

What is the No. 1 thing you try to get across to your players? Play together – play smart.  Everyone makes mistakes; it’s how you recover and learn from them that counts.

What other fun things do you like to do in your free time? Spend time with my family, preferably at the pool or a beach.  I have three young children. I like to read.

Who influenced you the most in your basketball career as a player and coach? My father and brothers.

What are your short- and long-term goals as a coach? Long term is to have every player improve as an individual, and to play as a team.  I like to get them ready for next steps. Short term, I like to teach the lesson that was the day’s plan. I believe in repetition and in mastering the basics.

Can you describe your first day at Mo’ Motion? Well, my first day with Mo’ Motion I went from a college coach to coaching, which required relearning how to break down and teach with less talking.

What is your favorite Mo’ Motion memory? My favorite Mo’ Motion memory was probably last year. Ha – even though we were upset in the semifinal game.  I coach in the younger division – 3/4 graders. The improvement that this team made over the two years was remarkable.  They went from 3rd graders struggling to figure it out to 4th graders who got it.  They improved and were not afraid to fight.  

If you were to describe Mo to someone, what would you say? Intense and hard-working.  Mo is a person I am most fortunate to have known since grade school (4/5th grade).  We have been rivals in youth CYO programs and in high school, but we were also teammates in AAU, and now friends into adulthood.  We are made of similar stock and similar backgrounds. We are both quite competitive, too. 🙂

What do you think is the most important skill an athlete can have? That is too vague 🙂 – I can’t pick just one.  You must be mentally strong.  You must be coachable. You must be a hard worker.  High athletic ability is a plus, of course.   

What is your favorite quote about sports and/or life?  There is no I in Team.

Why do you enjoy coaching with Mo’ Motion?  You work with us because we focus on the individual within the broader frame of basketball and games.  FUNDAMENTALS, FUNDAMENTALS, FUNDAMENTALS.  Wins don’t matter at this level – its learning, using both hands to dribble, shoot/pass, think ahead to see the next play, and discipline.  It’s about bringing everyone along for the ride and not just the .5% who are truly gifted for the highest levels.


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