Telegram - Serving Metropolitan Detroit Since 1944

By Manuel J Casey II
Telegram News Intern 

"To me, what I do isn't work."

Sit down interview with Coach LaMonta Stone

 

LaMonta Stone coaches his River Rouge Panthers to a 60 to 43 victory over the Haslett Vikings in this season's quarter finals

LaMonta Stone is a man who has lived and breathed River Rouge basketball since birth. He had uncles who played basketball for Rouge (and won championships), his mother was a cheerleader for who was a state champion. Stone summed it up perfectly, "Probably my blood is maroon."

Coach Stone is a man who prides himself on discipline. "Not only will it carry you through athletics and give you a winning mentality, it also helps you in life, in all aspects of your life." Lofton Greene, a River Rouge legend who helped bring 12 basketball championships to the school, and built the foundation for Rouge basketball to be what it is today. LaMonta Stone had a great relationship with Greene, who also had a profound impact on him as a man. Greene helped Stone live his life with discipline in mind, both on an off the court.

Growing up, LaMonta was a talented hard worker, and lived on the blacktop. "The playground babysitted me". He would be there all day, only taking breaks to eat and grab a slice of pizza from a local store. He truly did spend his days at the playground because everyone knew where to find him if they needed him. This constant pursuit of improvement and hard work daily is what Stone looks for in his players. He likened his basketball program to be like an academic AP course. "It's not for everyone. Our basketball team is for the basketball player who really wants the most out of playing this game. If your mentality is average, we aren't the program for you."

As a coach, LaMonta has earned his stripes. He started off his coaching career with University of Michigan Dearborn. He coached there from 1991 to 1994. "At that level, as an assistant coach, you're everything." Coach Stone talked about how he was responsible for recruiting, head academic coordinator, and also being the coordinator of summer camps. "Not knowing at the time, that job would prepare me for everything to come." He left U of M Dearborn after three seasons, and came back to Rouge the first time to coach for six seasons. The Panthers won titles in 1998 and 1999. He then was an assistant at Eastern Michigan University for two years (2000-2002) before making a shift to the Big Ten conference powerhouse Ohio State (2003). Though only there for one year, he felt "over prepared" to be coaching there.

Bowling Green is where Coach Stone found his footing. For 10 years he was apart of the coaching staff, and it's the closest to "home" he ever felt on any coaching staff. Stone truly felt like he had a really awesome and small tight-knit community in Bowling Green. Eventually though, everything came back to River Rouge basketball.

He returned to Rouge in 2014 and would coach his son LaMonta II for one year. Naturally, this was a change for LaMonta II, who lived in Bowling Green for most of his life to be uprooted his senior year. This had effect on both father son and positively and negatively. Stone cited that his wife (Tomica) would think that he was treating Lamonta II differently than all the other kids, but Stone wanted to push his son to be the best basketball player he could be. This conflict lead to a few "family battles" but none of them would drive this family apart. Lamonta II would earn first team all state honors from the Detroit News and second team from the Detroit Free Press. He got an offer to play basketball at Eastern Michigan University. Alot was going on with his son at the time, with the big change of moving, but Stone says he is proud of his son and the basketball player he became. Stone is also grateful for his younger sons Lance and Landen, and his wife Tomica for their support.

Being that Rouge is a great program for basketball, many things have to work for it to be it's best. Coach Stone feels like Lofton Greene's system being used from 6th to 12th grade elps this program maintain and establish the brand of basketball with discipline and fundamentals being at the forefront. Coach Stone brought Rouge two of its 12 state title's in 1998 and 1999. The Lofton Greene formula is the foundation, with Lamonta making tweaks as he sees fit. This past season, Rouge didn't quite meet their championship pedigree. Rouge lost to Hudsonville Christian in the state championship, 58-55. "This year we never recovered from the semi final against Chandler Park. It was a highly emotional game and the team character was off. Goes back to discipline though".

Coach Stone is now looking towards next season and is glad to have 7 returning players. He used last season as a platform to get all of his Seniors collegiate offers to further their basketball and academic careers. He thinks their biggest returning piece will be Legend Getter and that he is the "key". "Legend is just a great kid.; selfless, and is about not what's just best for Legend Geeter." Coach Stone believes that this attitude will bring Legend success in all aspects of life, not just basketball.

As Rouge is poised to make another run at it, you can be sure Coach Stone will give it his all.

 

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