Familiar face back in Rebels country
‘I have that youthful feeling.’
Over and over again, Greg Robinson mentioned his excitement upon returning to South Central as boys’ basketball coach.
At last Tuesday’s South Harrison Community School Corp. board meeting, Robinson was approved to return to the sidelines to lead the boys’ program. Robinson coached at South Central from 1996 to 2006, compiling a 131-92 record, including a sectional championship in 2001-02.
‘We had some great candidates, and I’m happy with the one we chose,’ South Central athletic director Bradly Mills said. ‘He has a great background, but what stood out was he has a relate-ability to our players. He’ll be approachable for the kids and knows the area well.’
‘I always, in the back of my mind, knew I wanted to get back into head coaching,’ Robinson said. ‘When I left before, I did it for family reasons. My kids were at that age where I wanted to be around them more.’
Robinson’s sons ‘ Grant and Jay ‘ will both be off to college in the fall, leaving Robinson as an empty nester with wife Jill.
‘I got to watch my kids grow up and play,’ Robinson said in the 10 years away from being a head coach. ‘When I left, I felt if I tried to both coach and follow my sons, I would have been cheating someone. I didn’t want to cheat South Central, and you can’t cheat your family. You had to make a choice.’
During the last 10 years, South Central has put together two seasons of 10-plus wins while cycling through three coaches. Ryan Crick resigned after last season’s 1-24 mark, concluding a five-year run.
‘We have some work to do,’ Robinson said. ‘I do think there is some hope and light there. I see talent there. There are some things that have to change. Kids have to work at it more.’
Robinson touched on the players’ need to commit when they are practicing and playing.
‘If we are going to practice for two hours, I want them committed for two hours,’ Robinson said. ‘When they go away from the gym, I understand there are other important things in their lives. But, when they are in that gym, I want them committed while they are there.’
When a new coach comes in, there is going to be period of time players and fans will be fired up. Robinson wants to seize that momentum. One memory of his previous run at South Central was the community support for Rebels’ athletics.
‘We had a great following,’ he said. ‘I always felt like our fan support was the best of any team we played. Our fans traveled. If you can get things going again, we will have that support again. I look forward to that.’
Robinson has touched base with assistant coaches Sam Mercer and Harvey Basham about the duo staying on staff. The continuity and familiarity with the kids from the previous staff will assist with the transition.
Since Robinson’s departure from South Central, he’s been busy. Keeping within the school corporation, Robinson has been an assistant boys’ basketball coach at Corydon Central, along with coaching the boys’ soccer program and the junior high track and field squad.
‘Being able to concentrate on one sport will allow me to go watch guys on my team play other sports,’ Robinson said. ‘I look forward to being supportive of other sports at the school.’
Learning continued as well, particularity from coaching with Corydon Central’s Jamie Kolkmeier and being in the gym for practices run by Corydon Central girls’ coach Michael Uhl.
‘I think I’ll do some things differently than I have done before, but I think better,’ Robinson said. ‘I think I’m a better coach now than I was when I left. I worked closely with Michael and Jamie, two great coaches doing their thing. I see the merit on how they did things, which was different than what I did, so it grew me as a coach.’
There are certain things a Greg Robinson team will do: play hard and play a 1-3-1 defense.
‘Everyone in Southern Indiana that knows me, knows that is what is going to happen,’ he said.
Robinson said he has seen the stats from last season’s Rebels. Shooting 29 percent from the field and turning the ball over 20-plus times per game has to change. Effort can make a difference, he said.
‘They’ll learn my idea of what a good shot is,’ Robinson said. ‘You have to start with basics and teach scoring philosophy to them. We’ll spend a lot of time on fundamentals and work this summer on the offensive side of the ball. We want to cut the turnovers and make more shots.’
The new coach said the players are going to need energy at each practice.
‘I don’t necessarily run a lot, but we will do a lot of full-court work,’ he said. ‘They’ll need to be in shape that first practice. That may be a shock to their system. Practice will move quickly.’
One area Robinson wants to push is playing open gyms. With the structure of so many practices and games, Robinson wants to reintroduce the benefits of playing open gyms.
‘I want to allot time for guys to just go play without me yelling at them,’ he said. ‘I think this generation has lost the ability to learn certain things through pick-up games. Summer pick-up games help you realize who the best player is. In pick-up games, when you lose and have to sit and wait to play for 45 minutes, that isn’t fun. You want to play even harder the next time you are on the court and stay there.’
Even though the program is coming off a one-win season, Robinson believes the buy-in of players could see a quick turnaround.
‘I think we will be better than people think,’ he said. ‘Some may be surprised. It’s if the kids buy in to giving a good effort every day and hold each other accountable, I think you can see results right away. We’ve got 30 kids or so interested in basketball. That’s good numbers. It’ll create competition and increase accountability.’
Mills said when Robinson’s name is brought up around South Central, there is a buzz and excitement about his return.
‘He showed great enthusiasm,’ Mills said.
Robinson said he was thankful for his 10 years at Corydon Central.
I’m thankful to have worked for Mark Black, Kim Frederick, Keith Marshall, Jennie Capelle and the other past administrators,’ Robinson said. ‘It’s been a great environment to work for. I’m real appreciative of working with Jamie for all those years. We had some great runs.’