Brett Frank has gone from the Ole Miss Rebels women’s basketball team to the Silo Rebels boys’ hoops.
And from the sound of it, his new school might as well adopt a more descriptive mascot, like the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels.
“We will do a lot of conditioning,” the new head coach said. “My basketball philosophy is a very high-paced, transition-oriented, full-court press. We’re going to be going up and down the floor for 32 minutes and there’s not going to be any breaks.”
The 2013-14 Rebels were ranked No. 13 in Class 2A. They made it to the second round of the area tournament, where their season ended at 22-8. Then, standouts Kendall Shives, Lance House and Leo Sandler graduated.
“I’m told we lost 85 percent of our shooting and rebounding,” Frank said. “But I haven’t really gone over the final stats for the season.”
Silo will have some back, including assistant coach Brad Brister and his sons, Bryce and Nolan.
“There’s a great core group of kids who are returning and have some experience that will be fun to work around,” Frank said. “Kendall’s younger brother, Drake, is going to be there. He’s a senior this year, as will be Jarris Hamilton, Tanner Clark and Andrew Bolin. And the Long twins (Trenton and Lucas) are both good athletes too.”
Frank made a good point with the athleticism. Most all of those guys were contributors to the state runner-up baseball team a few months ago.
“We should have some horses to run up and down the floor,” Frank said. “And we will do a ton of running. It will be a very fast-paced game.”
Frank, a Bokchito High grad and Southeastern Oklahoma State University alum, is no stranger to Silo. He was out cheering for the baseball and softball teams this spring, but that’s not all.
“I did coach one year out at Silo,” he said. “I got the fast-pitch softball started out there, and I worked with Vernon (Johnson) during that season with the basketball team.
“It’s just a place I’ve always felt really comfortable. I like the people there, I think there are great kids there, and I think it’s a great school system with unlimited potential.”
It’s certainly a season of change for Silo Schools. Other district hires include Silo alum Casey Strahan as head girls’ basketball coach, and Mike Lawless as softball coach and middle school principal. Jeremy Atwood is the new high school principal. Former state superintendent candidate Donna Anderson came over from Bennington to be the head administrator, and she’s handling duties of athletics director.
“I think it’s a really exciting time,” Frank said. “With me being new and having a new administration, I think the atmosphere right now is really positive. I think that’s going to do wonders for the whole school district. Obviously they’ve had some bumps in the road. I think this is a whole fresh start that’s going to be a good change for everyone.”
He said the new administration has been open and receptive, willing to try to create a better program with whatever improvements they are able to make in equipment and the facilities. (Side note: Katie Helms-Brister, Silo Elementary principal since 2011-12, was on the coach Johnson-helmed 1999 Lady Rebels team that won the school’s first-ever state championship.)
The resignation of Frank’s predecessor, Dax Simon, was accepted by the school board at the June 9 regular meeting. Simon has gone to Tushka to coach baseball. He replaced Eddie Jeffcoat (he also happens to be a Bokchito native), who will be coaching the Prague Red Devils on the diamond.
Frank was in his 17th season of college coaching in October 2012 when named acting head coach of the Ole Miss women’s basketball team.
He spent nine years at Fresno State, serving as associate head coach 2010-12. His final season there, the team set a school record for wins (28) en route to its fifth-straight NCAA Tournament. The team made eight Division I postseason appearances during his time on the staff.
Back before he moved to the West Coast, 1994-97 and 1998-2002, Frank was an assistant coach at SOSU.
The then-Lady Savages reached the NCAA Division II title game in 2001-02, were Lone Star Conference champions 1998-2001, the 1995 national runner-up and 1996 NAIA Championships.
Of course that means Frank started within the era of SOSU record-book queen Crystal Robinson. To round out his stint nicely, his last year was Brandi Robinson’s (Crystal’s sister) senior year. In another interesting coincidence, Caney alumna Lari Ann (Watson) Brister was a freshman on the Southeastern basketball team during Crystal’s senior year. She’s the mom to twins Bryce and Nolan, who will be on Frank’s roster this fall.
Frank’s 1997-98 departure from the Southeastern sideline was spent in his hometown as Rock Creek High School’s head girls’ basketball coach.
“Aside from summer league, this will be my first time to coach boys,” Frank said. “A lot of people have asked me why I’m transitioning. For me, the women’s collegiate game is very similar to the level that the high-school boys are going to be at in a good program. So I think the things that made us successful at the collegiate level are things that will adapt easily to the high school boys’ level. That’s why I wanted to try and see what it was like. I think it’s going to be more similar to what I’m accustomed to. It’s going to be an adventure.”
He laughed with a big smile.
And he actually seems to do that quite often. So what is the coaching style of an apparently easy-going guy?
“I am pretty laid back off the court, and I think it is fine to have fun on the court too,” he said. “But in coaching, it has to be about discipline. For me, it’s all about character building too. I think character development is the one thing that we can do and we can teach to transcend into all aspects of their lives. It’s not about running because I tell you to run. It’s about running because you’re trying to better yourself. It’s about learning to do the little things right, because the little things are what make the big things later on.”
Frank — who was involved in scheduling his Fresno State players the 463.5 hours honored by the “Challenging Athletes’ Minds for Personal Success” program — said he’s used an adage and illustration with his young athletes.
“I’d say, ‘Hold out your hand. Make a fist. Now turn it over. Right now you’ve learned how to make French fries. You’re now qualified to go to McDonald’s and you can do the fry machine. Now, if you know why McDonald’s teaches you to do it with a certain hand and turn it a certain way, then one day, you’re going to be that person’s boss.’
“So we’re going to learn how to do things, but more importantly, we’re going to learn why we do those things. And one day, we’re going to be people who are in charge.”
Frank earned both a bachelor’s degree (1995) and a master’s degree (2005) in education from SOSU.
He will be teaching something at Silo, but he doesn’t yet know what that will be. The school board voted during a special meeting July 1 to hire Frank as a certified teacher and add the extra-duty coaching position, both on the board’s standard one-year, temporary contract terms.
He said his parents (John and Mary) and sister (Alisa Dorman) were “pretty ecstatic” when he told them he was going to come back for at least a year. Frank said he had made that decision before the Silo job became available and now hopes he gets to stay longer.
“I sold my house in Mississippi in March,” he said. “I’m back to officially being a Bryan County citizen after a 12-year hiatus.
“I’ve always appreciated this area, but I think you get a greater appreciation when you’ve been gone for a while and return to see your family and friends again. It’s going to be a really special time. I’m really excited about it.”
Contact Regina Phillips at (580) 634-2163 or @NewspaperRegina on Twitter.