Dad keeping tab on Ford brothers

Dad keeping tab on Ford brothers

CHAMPAIGN — Ask Gene Ford who wins a one-on-one game between his two basketball-coaching sons and the Hall of Fame coach breaks into laughter.

“They wouldn’t finish the game, it would end up in a fight,” the head coach at Ohio’s Division III Muskingum University said. “That’s just a fact, they’re both so competitive.”

Ford’s boys — Geno, the head coach at Bradley, and Dustin, an assistant coach at Illinois — will square off today when the Braves and Illini meet at State Farm Center (5 p.m.).

“At my age, my shape and my condition and at his age, his shape and his condition, I don’t know if either one of us wants to be fighting anyone,” Dustin said.

As players, the Ford boys went about their business in different ways. Geno, who starred at Ohio, is third on Ohio high school basketball’s career scoring list, just ahead of LeBron James.

During Dustin’s college career at Ohio, the point guard turned the ball over 28 times his junior year while averaging more than 32 minutes per game.

“All I cared about was where my next shot was coming from,” Geno said. “He was heady, made smart decisions. He played like a coach.”

Their coaching styles are different, too. While animated at times, Geno has a more calm, cerebral approach. Dustin is jumping out of his seat, screaming most of the time.

“I kind of always knew Geno would be a coach because he would always doodle when he was younger and try to figure out the plays we were running,” said Gene, who coached his boys at Cambridge High in east central Ohio. “My man Dustin would just jump in with both feet and go get it. They’ve both got the fight, just different approaches.”

Gene won’t be at State Farm Center for today’s game as Muskingum opens its season at Oberlin. But he’s seen them go at it before when Geno was head coach at Kent State and Dustin was on John Groce’s staff at Ohio.

“He’d probably be trying to figure out some way to get everyone to root against both of us, which just isn’t possible, so it’s probably best if he stays with his own team,” Geno said.

Gone are the days where Gene calls regularly and offers advice.

“They’re in pretty good places right now in their careers, so I’m happy for them,” he said. “They both really seem to enjoy where they are, and I’m proud of them.”