After beating Citadel 76-71, Mercer men’s basketball team was on their sixth straight win led by new coach Greg Gary as of Feb. 1.
Gary was named head coach for the Bears March 26. Prior to committing to Mercer, Gary spent eight seasons working at Purdue University in Indiana.
During Gary’s time as an assistant coach, the Purdue Boilermakers reached the NCAA tournament Elite Eight last season and Sweet 16 in both 2017 and 2018.
Not only did the coach lead the Boilermakers to success, but he also influenced individual players such as Robbie Hummel, honorable mention All-American for Purdue.
According to Mercer’s game notes, Gary coached NBA star Hummel, who led Purdue in scoring, blocked shots and rebounds. Hummel continued his basketball career by being drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second round in 2012.
While Gary was leading others to success, Mercer thought he would be a great addition to the Bears’ family.
“When we set out to look for a new head coach, we recognized Greg early in the process as someone we were confident in leading our men’s basketball program,” director of athletics Jim Cole said in Mercer’s game notes.
After becoming the new head coach, Gary brought on four additional coaches in order to help him with the process.
“I’m very excited about our staff. We got experience. We got guys that have passion about the game,” Gary said on Mercer’s Greg Gary Coaches Show. “They won. They know what winning feels like, what it looks like and what it smells like.”
On the show, Gary has many concerns for the season, but there is one that he is focusing on the most: training.
“I’m more concerned about: are we pushing the basketball in training? Are we jumping to the ball on defense? All the boring stuff coaches do — that’s what I’m concerned about,” Gary said.
Gary’s training-focused strategy allowed the team to achieve their six-game winning streak — the longest winning streak in the Southern Conference for the current season.
During their streak, not only did the Bears beat VMI both at Hawkins Arena and away, but they also defeated the ETSU Bucs, the No. 1 ranked team in the Southern Conference.
The following week Mercer overpowered the Citadel Bulldogs with a score of 76-71. Currently, the bears are ranked fifth in their division.
The streak did not hold, however, as the Bears later lost against Furman and ETSU.
As of Feb. 9th, the Mercer Bears have a record of 12-13 for the 2019-2020 season. Their next home game will be on Feb. 15 against UNCG and on Feb. 19 against Samford.