Friendship strong as ever for ex-teammates after first year coaching against each other

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Matt Brackett and Zach Pickelman have been friends since they stepped onto the Hardin-Simmons campus as freshmen 15 years ago. The two played for the Cowboys' basketball team with Matt dishing out the assists, and Zach dropping in the shots. Now, the two are coaching rivals.

Brackett is the head coach at HSU, while Pickelman leads McMurry across town. After one year of coaching against each other, the pair stopped by the KTXS studios to chat with sports reporter Evan Nemec about the NBA Finals, their summer schedules and their friendship.

Below is a transcript of the interview.

Evan Nemec: We're talking about those NBA Finals between the Cavs and the Warriors. What are y'all's thoughts? Is it good for the game of basketball to have those two teams squaring off for four straight years?

Zach Pickelman: I don't like it. I'd like to see somebody else in there, but obviously they deserved it.

Matt Brackett: I thought the championship was won in the Western Conference Finals, but seeing LeBron go at it against the Warriors is always interesting to watch.

Evan: Now that the NBA season is over, we've got some time until the college basketball season gets kicked up, but you guys are still working hard. What are y'all's summer schedules like?

Matt: A lot of recruiting. July is pretty full. We just got back from recruiting this weekend.

Zach: You always have to be recruiting. It's a year-round process, and you also prepare for the upcoming year. I like to watch film during the summer of the previous year. You look at it with a different perspective in the summer than you do during the season. You focus in during the season on certain things you're looking for, and in practice every day. You take a little time away from it and you get a different perspective during the summer.

Evan: How much is it you guys going out to find players versus players contacting you personally?

Zach: That's a full time answering e-mails from kids. You're getting, give or take, 6-10 e-mails from kids. It's sifting through those and finding anything you need from those e-mails. Then going out and identifying the talent and trying to get them to Abilene.

Evan: Coach Brackett, your first year as the head coach of Hardin-Simmons, and joining your friend coach Pickelman back in Abilene. What was this first year like to be at the helm of the Cowboys?

Matt: It was a lot of fun. I knew it was going to be a challenge with the guys that were returning because they lost a lot of seniors that previous season, but I think our guys played really hard. They were really good guys. It was a really good time to be able to come back to Hardin-Simmons and coach basketball, coach Pickelman and coach Yeatts. Really enjoyed my first year.

Evan: Coach Pickelman, has the friendship between you two changed any now that you're on opposite sides?

Zach: I don't think so, not at all. We live two blocks from each other. We rode together here. I think we see each other close to every single day. It's probably gotten stronger since he moved back to Abilene. We help each other out. We play Thursdays and Saturdays, so we talk about our Thursday opponents. But I always tell him I hope he finishes second.

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