New Orleans -- This week on Pizza and the Playbook, UNO Men's Basketball Coach, Mark Slessinger sits-down with me at Katie’s Restaurant Mid-City to chat about his team’s season to remember, getting into coaching and his family.
KL: You guys are coming-off an historic season—20 wins, conference champs and first NCAA Tournament appearance in more than 20 years. If you could sum-up the season in one word, what would it be?
MS: Amazing. Amazing to be able to come through and be able to do all of those things throughout the year. Their effort day-in and day-out was amazing.
KL: How fun was that? I was there for Selection Sunday. It just seemed like you guys were all on cloud 9.
MS: It was an amazing opportunity-- not just for our university but all our faculty, staff and alumni and the city. It was great to bring a championship back to this incredible city that we love living in.
KL: How did you get into coaching? At what point in your life did you decide this was going to be your career?
MS: About 4th or 5th grade. This is the only job I've ever wanted to do so when people ask me how I’m doing and what I'm up to, I say I'm living the dream.
KL: Let's talk about your family. You have two children and when you guys were making your run in the post-season, the broadcasters could not stop talking about your daughter's name, which is Nola. How did this come to be?
MS: My wife and I had been incredibly lucky and blessed to adopt two wonderful children from our city and we just had always had on our mind that we wanted to honor her and honor our city by naming her Nola Ann. It's been an amazing journey for us to be parents.
KL: Final question-- what is your favorite type of pizza?
MS: "You're looking at it-- the Bradbird Pizza here at Katie's Restaurant Mid-City. It is your meat lover’s pizza with Scottie's famous blackberry jalapeño barbeque drizzle. There's not a better pie in the city or probably the United States in my opinion.”