Having just been promoted, Appalachian State men's basketball coach Jason Capel sought out all his mentors to answer the same question a year ago:
What must he change about himself to be a successful head coach?
All of them - his dad, a Charlotte Bobcats assistant; his brother, then coach at Oklahoma; retired North Carolina coach Bill Guthridge and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski - said the same thing: Don't change anything, at least in regard to your personality.
"They all said, 'Be yourself. Don't try to be something foreign to who you are,' " Capel recalled Monday.
That's what senior Omar Carter, the former Charlotte Christian star, loves about playing for Capel. Carter and the Mountaineers (2-1) are in Charlotte today for a 7 p.m. game against East Carolina (2-1) at Time Warner Cable Arena.
"There's really not any difference" between who Capel was as an assistant and how he is now, Carter said. "He always has an open-door policy; you can text him any time of the day or night. He might be doing something different job-wise, but his personality never changed.
"He's a young guy, and that means he relates to us better. I know that's really helped me out, personally."
Carter has experience with different coaches. He initially played at Charleston Southern, then transferred intending to play for Buzz Peterson. When Peterson left for UNC Wilmington, Capel became his coach. Now Carter is thriving as a Southern Conference shooting guard - he averaged 16.3 points last season and is in contention to be conference player of the year this season.
Capel, who played at North Carolina, became at 30 the youngest head coach in Division I basketball. He said one of his priorities, for numerous reasons, was to start playing games on a regular basis in Charlotte.
"It's something we should do for the fan base - we have quite a lot of alumni there - and as far as recruiting, it's a hot bed for us," Capel said.
The other factor is playing at a building as large as Time Warner Cable Arena.
"Playing in an NBA arena against a good opponent can be invaluable later," Capel said. "Since those are typically NCAA (tournament) venues, it's very important our kids have experienced that."
For Carter, it's simply a Thanksgiving treat. Though the Mountaineers annually play at Davidson, this is the first time he's played a college game in Charlotte. He anticipates roughly 100 inside the building tonight to be there for him.
"A lot of friends and family have never seen me play" in college, Carter said. "It's my senior year - what better way to go out than to play a good team like East Carolina in your hometown?"