The other side of the game

Keith Smiley

Taking over the Georgia Southern University women’s basketball program as head coach isn’t exactly what some would describe as a dream job.

As a former division two head coach with over 20 years of experience, Kip Drown knew this prior to accepting the position.

The culture around this campus is what attracted Kip Drown. It surely wasn’t the 5-24 record from last season. It was the passion, the success of football and other programs had at GSU.

“I told my wife Gina, I just don’t see any reason in the world that we can’t be successful in women’s basketball,” Drown said.

This was the mindset he had right after his visit to Statesboro with his wife. He was ready for the challenge. He was already known across division two play for resurrecting programs.

The 2015-2016 season wasn’t just about a fresh start for Coach Drown, but for a young team, with only two seniors on the ball club. Learning a new system isn’t an easy task for any college player and the women’s program was looking for leadership.

Coach Drown’s focus wasn’t to win a championship necessarily but to gain the trust of the locker room first.

“Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Drown said

Drown gave no promise of a complete turnaround of last season but a goal to make everyone play better. Before he can get the team to play for him he had to get to know them. Giggles turned to laughter, something that has been rarely done the last couple years from the ball club. A team gathering filled with bonding over a game of Family Feud changed everything. From the moment of Coach Drown’s first win as a division one coach against Savannah State, he knew this year was going to be fun.

“This has been one of the most enjoyable years I had I really enjoy coaching this group,” Drown said.

With only eight games left and sitting near the bottom of the Sun Belt division, the outside world would view this season as a failure for Coach Drown. The fans that have been watching the Eagles play this season can see that Drown’s first year has been one of change. Coach Drown and the Eagles have already won more games than last season and still have more games to go. There is a new feeling when watching the women’s basketball team, you see effort and the spirit to win. He has earned the trust of his players and plans to keep improving.

“There is always a trust level you have to develop with your new team when you come in as a new coach,” Coach Drown said.

This season, Drown’s first hasn’t been successful record wise, but it hasn’t been a failure. The Eagles are still only one game back from being eighth place in the conference. Knowing Coach Drown he has plans to secure the last spot for the tournament.

GSU will be facing Troy tonight at 6:15 p.m.