Bishop rick stansbury reinvigorated at western kentucky

I’ll start with honesty, seeing it being the best way to go about things, because I did not like rick stansbury upon first interaction. The us-against-the-media-against-the-world narrative didn’t quite sit well with the grizzled scribe. (OK I’m not really grizzled at 35 but it’s fun to play the part).

Of course, now I’ve come to understand the coach’s generally positive rapport with media types was tested during his final seasons at mississippi state. Thus, he had reason not to be an open book, to be somewhat distrustful of the few who would consistently be covering his new program.Bowling green

So that feeling of dislike from my end has subsided over time, mostly because the picture cleared showing a stansbury who was really working with a stansbury-vs-the-world mentality.

His plan was clear, and simple, and a tad brilliant and perhaps a little bit crazy.

If you believed – and I mean really believed – what stansbury was selling two years ago during his introductory news conference, well then more power to you, because promises of sold-out arenas and postseason runs and high-profile recruits and nonconference games against major competition sounded good in theory. But not in reality.Bowling green

Year one in the stansbury regime went according to script. The tops struggled mightily with a patchwork roster against an unmanageable schedule. Stansbury was an apparition, floating between diddle arena for games and practices while scrambling to recruit his ass off – as has become his calling card.

“I don’t know that anybody in american inherited a bigger challenge than what he did,” WKU athletic director todd stewart said monday in new york. “that being said, I don’t know that any coach in america has had a bigger impact on their program over the last 24 months than he has.Diddle arena

“it was a huge challenge early on. That first month he had on the job, the meetings we had in his office were really just about academics and getting guys to finish the semester strong – we knew we had a really bad APR number with (fredrick edmond, chris mcneal and marlon hunter) being suspended from school, but we tried to salvage it the best we could. The first month wasn’t even really traditionally basketball stuff. He’s still trying to build a roster and recruit, but we had to get through that transition part and then put the best team he could together for the ’16-17 season.Western kentucky then this year it’s really all come together.”

Year two was just as an unknown as year one. Stansbury lost five-star center mitchell robinson and juco sharpshooter jordan brangers before the season began. Four-star freshman josh anderson and former syracuse signee moustapha diagne were ineligible.

“I’ve never had a team with one player coming back. Never had that. Maybe to overcome some of the things we had to overcome in the fall – no one anticipated that,” stansbury said earlier this week. “we didn’t sit back and ask ourself what if or feel sorry for ourself. I’m sure it’s easy to have done.Diddle arena but you guys could imagine where that thing was. But we never looked back, didn’t know for sure what we had.

“everybody else was new. Wasn’t no superstars in that bunch coming out. Didn’t know what we had for sure. But the one thing that I did know, we had good people. I thought we had a good mixture of the way this talent fit together. I thought everybody’s strength were a little bit different versus some guys being the same. Everybody’s a little different on this team and I like that.

“we had seven guys for the first 3 1/2 months. But even through that, these guys gained a lot of confidence.Bowling green even taken some bumps in the road. Had a tough loss at wisconsin that we gotta turn around and overcome on an 11 o’ clock game here against indiana state. Wasn’t easy. That’ll cut your heart out there, what happened in that last two seconds (at wisconsin). But these guys have gotten back up and put themselves in position.”

It was apparent more than ever nov. 23 in a small ballroom on the island of atlantis in the bahamas. Western was a 19-point underdog to purdue, a top-20 team with aspirations to play for a national title.

The hilltoppers won by four although it felt like 400.Western kentucky it was more than a single mark in the win column. It was an announcement that maybe, just maybe, WKU was back.

And off they went, through a season that included triple-doubles and long-awaited debuts and heightened rivalries and a lot of wins. Stansbury was growing back into his element.

“coach is having a blast,” WKU senior justin johnson said. “he’s a lot more relaxed. I think when he’s relaxed we see him relaxed and that means he has a lot of trust in us. When your coach is relaxed and put’s a lot of stuff on you guys, that builds your relationship with him and allows you to have the freedom to just go play basketball.”

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As the victories piled up the guard began to come down. Stansbury, seemingly, became more open, and stories of his generosity and kindliness were spreading.

When WKU switched its gametime dec. 16 against indiana state for a morning tipoff, stansbury happened upon a family from owensboro wandering the concourse of E.A. Diddle arena thinking the game was at its originally scheduled time of 2:30 p.M. To make amends stansbury invited them back for a tour of the locker room and to attend the next home game.

When redemption christian academy (and western kentucky signee dalano banton) out of massachusetts needed one more game to play during a trip to bowling green after a previously-scheduled opponent had backed out, monroe county high school stepped in on short notice – stansbury invited the falcons out to a future home game.Bowling green

During one of his weekly radio shows, stansbury invited the cheer and dance teams to show up, had them introduce themselves one-by-one on air and thanked them profusely for all they meant to the program.

He found time to buy a new border collie puppy named cash. His wife meo and sons isaac, noah and luke are present almost everywhere stansbury is.

When the local beat reporter’s mother died unexpectedly this season stansbury made it a point make conciliatory phone calls and texts and made double sure his team knew the situation of someone who had been on the sidelines all season long.Diddle arena

“maybe this is the confidence I had in western kentucky and everybody – if you’ll remember I said this in my press conference, they’ll be a day some time real soon there won’t be a ticket for sale,” stansbury said. “I know a lot of you sat there and said, ‘man, that sound like some coach talk.’ came real in a hurry didn’t it? And what I’ll say again is, we’re not finished. We’re just kinda getting started. There’s a whole lot more to get and a whole lot more to give.

“we literally want it sold every night. It don’t matter who you’re playing, people are hanging from the rafters to see western kentucky.Western kentucky not the opponent. Through the years you only sold it out because you had a special opponent. Now we want it so every night it can be that way."

Now that stansbury is winning and now that he’s has – and will continue to have – the players, the next mission is to sustain the success of 2017-18 for years and years to come. To not just get to the NIT or the NCAA tournament but to play deep into that 68-team event.

“being back in the head coaching chair really invigorated him. He’s motivated by the challenges,” stewart said. “what impressed me so much was despite all that, the whole first year, there was never one day where he was exasperated or said, ‘this is ridiculous,’ or, ‘I can’t believe we’re dealing with this.’ he never did that.Diddle arena he was very sturdy throughout the whole thing and I think was just motivated to overcome it.

“the private conversations we have are much like the public ones – why can’t we? ‘tell me why can’t we be what wichita state is? Why can’t we be what xavier is?’ I think that’s really what his main motivation is.”

With success will come the hunger for more success in bowling green. The western kentucky diehards will not settle for trips to the NIT or first-round NCAA tournament exits or just 20-win seasons. You can ask some former WKU coaches about that.

Stansbury is comfortable with those expectations.Diddle arena he wants diddle arena sold out every night. He wants wisconsin and arkansas and saint mary’s to play in diddle arena. He wants to be ranked in the top 25 and get at-large bids and single-digit seeds with five- and four-star recruits.

“I’ll never feel more outside pressure than I have on myself. Because I’m very comfortable and confident in what we’re gonna do,” stansbury said. “because of that, I’m real at peace. And it’s easier to be at peace when you have a good team and you got good people.”

Videos have circulated across social media this season of rick stansbury riding zip lines in costa rica, chest bumping his players in the bahamas and getting showered with water in stillwater and dancing on the court in bowling green.Diddle arena