Greenville Men’s Basketball Coach: George Barber
Written and Media by Jen Brakenhoff.
Since the season has started, the Greenville Men’s Basketball program has had a few obstacles to overcome under the leadership from head coach, George Barber. As I interviewed Coach Barber earlier this week, I learned about the culture the team has built from this program, a little about Coach Barber’s personal life, and the strategy behind Barber’s fast-paced offense they are running this year.
Coach Barber has been at Greenville College for 17 years and has enjoyed and valued all of the relationships he has made while being here. Every coach has to start somewhere and Coach Barber started his career at Asbury College in Kentucky. He was the head baseball coach and also coach what they called class basketball. He learned that most of the coaching consists of paperwork and only about a third of coaching involves actually being out on the court. Although this may seem tiresome, Barber says, “It’s worth it and I love it!”
Coaching can be a stressful job and during the season, it is extra stressful as you have a lot more going on and not a whole lot of time to spend with your loved ones. Coach Barber adds, “It really is a feast or famine. You can’t always get to things that you need to and during season you are feasting.” As for his family, they are very supportive. They tag along and do their best to travel to his games, eat with him, and adapt to his schedule. Most families wouldn’t be like this but as for the Barber family, they stick together.
This season, Barber has changed up GC’s basketball program and their style of play. They are trying new strategies in which everyone gets a chance to participate. For this style to work, Barber says that you must be unselfish and willing to work as hard as you can when you get into the game. They have also lost a few to injuries, which has created a more difficult journey to making the conference tournament. However, this team has high goals and an advantage over other teams that may not have the close bonds that allows the Panthers to play with such an intense and unselfish attitude.
Another strength is they have a lot of solid, hardworking players. They use their strength in numbers to overcome some of the obstacles they have faced. Losing their starting point guard, Brian Ehresman, to an injury has really been a struggle for this team but they have had underclassman step up and really give it their all. The strength of this team comes from their seniors. Barber says, “These guys are tremendous leaders. You will never beat any of them in a sprint or drill. They are the first ones in and the last ones to leave the gym.”
Many may wonder why Coach Barber has changed their style of play for this year and Barber gave me a quick insight on his reasoning for this change. He plays as many as 15 guys each game. Greenville and many other Division Three athletics in general is a number game with large rosters being the norm. Greenville started out with 34 on the roster and Barber knew it would be difficult to keep them all engaged. His system allows for his players to know that they will get into the game. There are two main shifts of guys rotating in every minute. The third shift of guys intertwine with the two main shifts as the game goes on. The purpose of this is to wear out the opponents. Their goal is to score within in 12 seconds and force the other team to turn the ball over or take a shot within 12 seconds. With this fast pace style, Greenville Men try their best to get 100 shots off with having 50 of those shots being 3 point shots. Greenville aims to get at least 25 more shots off than their opponent, with those extra possessions coming from offensive rebounds and forced turnovers.
The players try to rebound 1/3rd of their missed shots, and force 32 turnovers a game. To accomplish the offensive rebounding goal
they send every player in for the rebound except the shooter who stays out to attempt a second three-pointer. To force 32 turnovers they press the entire time they are on the floor. Barber says, “Pace is so critical in this style that risk taking is highly valued and encouraged. Risk taking sometimes pays off with a steal or a rushed shot by the other team, but also sometimes leads to an easy layup for the opponent. In the end we hope our 15 can wear out their eight, nine or ten, and that the frenetic pace with bring confusion and chaos to the opponent’s style of play.” They don’t worry about making mistakes and being taken out of the game, because they already know they are coming out in a minute or less, but also know they are going right back in after only a minute or two of rest. “This leads to playing with total release”, Barber says. He believes that young people have energy and are resilient and he wants to release that energy, not stifle it.
The culture that has been created in the basketball team is unique compared to other basketball programs. The Panthers are a band of brothers and they play for one another. They are going through a program called, “Big Time Lessons.” They focus on the ‘Me vs. Me’ rather than the “be number one or be no one” message that our culture often sends us. The Greenville Men’s Basketball program follows Romans 12:2 and applies it to their experience on the court and tries their best to be different. They always give it their best shot and motivate through love rather than fear. “It makes for the best result even if it requires more patience,” quotes Barber.
The Greenville Men’s Basketball team focuses on the relationships built rather than just the wins and losses. The stories and memories made while being at Greenville College will last a lifetime. Coach Barber has made a culture that allows for the men to truly bond and become family. The Greenville Men’s Basketball team is not only here to be different but also to make a change to the sport world with how they present themselves as young men.