Republic has hired Tim Brown as its new varsity basketball coach. Brown has spent the last seven seasons at Fair Grove, where he led the Eagles to back-to-back state quarterfinals in 2016 and 2017. He steps into the role filled by Trevyor Fisher, who will move into the activities director job.
“My first thing is character; making sure kids have high character not only on the basketball court, but also in the hallways and in the community,” Brown says. “You look at successful programs, and you don’t usually see teams with low character have championship sucess.”
Brown also says he wants his teams to “play the game the right way.” What does that kind of program look like, according to Brown?
“They act the right way and play the right way. They share the basketball,” Brown says. “We have guys that care about winning basketball games more than individual accolades. [It’s about] getting kids to put the team above themselves. You’re going to make sacrifices throughout your life, whether it’s as a husband or a father, and if we can teach kids that now, it’s going to set them up for success for whatever endeavors they have in the future.”
Brown played high school basketball in the Central Ozark Conference at Rogersville before graduating to play college ball at Drury. He saw a lot of Republic basketball up close during his time in high school.
“Being a part of the COC and having played in the COC in high school makes this job very desirable,” Brown says. “The games we played in high school, I think Rogersville and Republic played about 15 more times than anyone else. I’ve always had a lot of respect for the coaches who’ve come through Republic. I was able to see as a player the amount of pride the community has in the school and the athletic program. When this opportunity arose, I thought it would be a very good fit.”
Fisher believes Brown will bring valuable traits to Republic both on the court and off.
“I think he’s going to bring energy and excitement. He’s a very family-driven individual, which was important for us to fit into our community,” Fisher says. “I think he has the ability to relate to young people, being a younger guy himself, and playing in college, and being around the game his whole life. He’s just got the right personality to meet kids and get them to achieve their best.”
Retiring Activities Director Greg Garton echoes Fisher’s sentiment. “You’re always trying to hire that person that you’d want to coach your kid, and Tim’s one of those guys I’d want my child to play for,” he says.
Fisher and Garton both cited Brown’s record of success at Fair Grove, especially given where the program was when Brown started coaching there in 2011-2012.
“What he’s been able to accomplish at Fair Grove has been remarkable,” Fisher says. “He’s good about X’s and O’s, but he’s also good for getting buy-in for the entire program, as well.”
Brown says his biggest accomplishment at Fair Grove was helping his players buy into the idea they could compete for championships.
“When I first took the job at Fair Grove, it was a program that had success with winning games, but it wasn’t a championship-level program. That’s something we really preached to our kids. Our program hadn’t played in a lot of championship games, whether it was in the regular season or post-season.,” he says. “We celebrated those. Some programs might not celebrate playing in or winning championship games in the regular season, but we did. One of the things I’m most proud of, out of the seven seasons we played there, we played in five district championships.
“We were able to win back-to-back district championships and play in back-to-back quarterfinals. We’re a program that expects to win games in the Blue & Gold. That’s kind of where it started, and where it is now, and it’s in a healthy spot for someone else to take it to another level and keep the trend rolling,” Brown says.
Brown arrives at Republic in a very different situation from when he arrived at Fair Grove seven years ago. In Republic, playing for basketball championships (and often winning them) is already expected. Brown says he has a plan to continue that trend.
“I think the biggest challenge right away is building relationships. Relationships are what drives success. It’s going to be important that I dive in and develop positive relationships with [the players],” Brown says. “A big thing is getting the buy-in and the trust to get players to sacrifice for others; also player development and skill development. That’s been something that’s really helped develop our basketball program (in Fair Grove). Those are areas we’ve done very well at, and something that’s a strength of mine.”
Brown plans to get involved in the youth basketball programs in Republic, too. He believes that’s an important factor in continuing the program’s success year after year.
“Get kids excited about being the next good Republic basketball player. It’s important [kids] have guys to emulate and watch–guys that are high-character guys.”
On the court, Brown will stress ball movement and player movement in his offensive sets. “I’m a big advocate of the motion offense. It breeds teamwork–trying to break down the will of the defense and get the highest percentage shot. Our teams (at Fair Grove) have had a lot of success playing the game that way,” he says.
Defensively, he says his philosophy is not a lot different from Fisher’s.
“I’m a man-to-man guy. I think there’s a time and place to try to speed things up, but I like to play the percentages and make it hard on the opposing team,” he says. “We want to challenge every single shot and we want to rebound every single miss.”
Brown’s Fair Grove teams received more attention for their offense than their defense, but he says that’s not because defense wasn’t important to him and his players.
“I think maybe we haven’t gotten the credit we’ve deserved on the defensive end and on the backboards because our offense has overshadowed that. We had players that were really good on that (offensive) end,” Brown says. “Anyone who’s seen our program play would tell you that we’re very organized. Offensively and defensively, we’re prepared, and we have great attention to detail on both ends of the floor.”
Fisher, whose Republic team lost to Fair Grove in the Blue and Gold Tournament in 2015 and has played the Eagles during summmer leagues, agrees with Brown’s assessment.
“He’s had some good talent [on offense] and that’s how he needed to play. He’s been pretty flexible in his style of play,” Fisher says. “I don’t think he neglects the defensive end of the floor at all; it’s just the kind of style he’s played the last few years.”
When most coaches take over a program, the former coach is long gone. In this case, Brown’s predecessor will not only be around, he’ll be Brown’s boss. Brown’s not worried about possible interference, and says Fisher’s success at Republic, and his continued presence here, actually made the job more attractive.
“I think it’s something you have to sit back and evaluate, but any competitive coach would rather walk into a situation that’s positive rather than negative,” Brown says. “In some people’s case, it might be intimidating, but in my case, I see this as an opportunty to have one of the best coaches in the state as a resource and a mentor in his position, and ask questions and learn. I’m looking forward to that.
“There are things this program has been good at, and I want to make sure it remains good at. It’s a blue-collar defensive program, and I think it’s important to remain that way, but also to make sure that my strengths and the areas I’m good at are able to show. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of really successful programs, and I’m confident in my abilities to relate to players and coach basketball, and that’s why they hired me,” Brown says. “I’m going to stay true to who I am.”
Fisher says the subject has come up, and he’s willing to assist in the transition, but he’s also ready to let Brown take the reins.
“He wants to pick my brain on certain things to get the lay of the land so the transition is smooth, but I also told him he needs to put his own stamp on the program,” Fisher says. “It’s not going to be one of these deals where I’m going to be standing over his shoulder telling him how to do things.”
Brown’s first coaching job was at Hollister, where he spent one season. Brown says he learned a lot from that difficult first assignment.
“My experience at Hollister was the best experience you could have, because it made me grateful. It wasn’t an easy job, but I learned how to motivate kids and learned it wasn’t all about wins and losses. It humbled me and made me realize the success we’ve had at Fair Grove since then was something to be thankful for. Things can change in an instant, and you have to be prepared to do things the right way.”