UConn women’s basketball is short on coaches in San Antonio at the moment. With head coach Geno Auriemma still in Connecticut after testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday and assistant Shea Ralph out of the bubble after a family member tested positive for the virus, the Huskies are down to just two coaches: Chris Dailey and Jamelle Elliot.
Enter video coordinator Ben Kantor. While he’s normally tasked with filming practice, cutting up video for scouting reports and handling all other video-related needs for the program, Kantor is temporarily helping out as an assistant coach in Ralph’s absence.
“He’s terrific,” Auriemma said of Kantor. “I mean he’s really smart. He does a great job with the players, he’s got great rapport with the players, he sees the game and certainly he’s been around the program for four or five years now so he understands. So that helps tremendously.”
It’s a position Kantor’s somewhat familiar with, too. While he’s served as the Huskies’ Assistant Director of Video Services since 2015, Kantor tried his hand at coaching early in his career. He spent the 2010-11 season as an assistant with Colgate women’s basketball and joined the staff at Houston Baptist a year later.
While he returned to a video coordinator role in 2012, Kantor’s experience made him the perfect person to fill in with UConn’s coaching staff shorthanded.
“Ben had been an assistant a number of years ago so I think he’s just trying to do whatever we need him to do to help,” Dailey said.
Auriemma is still heavily involved with the team even if he can’t be with them in-person. He met with the coaching staff before and after practice, watched practice and spoke to the team. The Huskies have been without their head coach in each of the last two seasons, so they could get by for a week without him.
The additional loss of Ralph made things more difficult to handle since UConn now had two fewer set of hands to help out during practice. That’s where Kantor comes in.
“He’s definitely made the most in terms of helping us this season with his film and what he puts together off the court,” Olivia Nelson-Ododa said. “And then even just stepping on (the court) with us and going up and down, it’s definitely not easy — especially for somebody that isn’t doing that consistently. So for him to step out there and help us go through things and play scout team and just kind of be there to help us, I think it really speaks volumes.”
Kantor makes sure to have a little fun with it, too.
“Ben is great. He talks a lot of s—t,” Christyn Williams said with a big laugh. “He’s very competitive.”
He’ll also assist Dailey and Elliot with scouting, which isn’t too much of a deviation from his normal duties considering he has to cut up the video for film sessions anyways. While Kantor may be stepping into a more high-profile spot, he’s just doing whatever’s asked of him to help out the team.
“I think he’s just like everybody,” Dailey said. “When you’re down one or two people the next person has to step up and be ready to go and Ben is willing and ready to do anything that we need them to do whether it’s on the court, videotaping stuff, getting film or being another set of eyes on bench.”