By Colby Gable
While Appalachian State’s football team began their 2019 season with some hype around Eli Drinkwitz replacing the now Louisville coach Scott Satterfield, they aren’t the only team this year to begin with a new administration. On Monday this week, Appalachian State’s basketball program kicked off its 100 Year Anniversary and Media Day with introductions and a Q&A from their new head coach, Dustin Kerns. After beginning as a student manager with Clemson, Kearns was an assistant coach at Tennessee Tech beginning in 2002, and then Tennessee University from ’03-’04. Kerns also assisted at Wofford University on two separate stints and was there during the 2014 and ’15 seasons where the school made appearances in the NCAA tournament. On May 23, 2017, Kerns was named head coach of Presbyterian University, where he finished 31-37 including a 20-16 overall record and 9-7 in the Big South Conference last year.
Some of the biggest things which Drinkwitz and Kerns have in common is their philosophy on how to implement new systems and styles-of-play, or ideas about “identity-forming,” which they both mentioned in their separate media days. For Kerns, this has been coming along well, as he mentioned, “We have guys that have high basketball IQ’s, and so the way they absorb things has been very good and quick. But we’re still trying to build habits and getting guys to play for one another.”
Part of this new system also includes a two-sided philosophy where Kerns feels more flexible with his offensive sets as opposed to the defensive side of the ball. “I’m going to make adjustments based off our players, not our system…our identity wants to be on the defensive end of the floor. And that’s something we’ve got to continue to get better at. I want to be a defensive team that can score. Based off the personnel we’ve lost from last year, we lost 79 threes. We’ve returned some guys that can make some shots, but I think a strength of ours is bigger guards that can attack the rim and get to the free-throw line and find ways to score that way. Especially with the three-point line being moved back a little bit.”
After Coach Kerns spoke, several players from the team including Senior Forward Isaac Johnson, Junior Guard Justin Forrest, and Sophomore Guard Adrian Delph all spoke about their goals for the season and the new adjustments that come with the arrival of a new coaching staff. “To be honest I really didn’t know what to expect. After three years being with one coach and then getting a new coach makes you kind of nervous,” said Johnson. “It’s been a great experience though. Coach has done an amazing job with us just getting everybody together and communicating with each other more. Overall I’m just trying to lead the team and try to use my experience of being here for three years.”
Implementing a new system certainly takes time and practice in order to reach a point of efficiency, and the upcoming season is now less than a month away, but as Forrest mentioned, their fellowship off it the floor is what makes it easier adjusting to the coaching transition. “Our bond off the court helps a lot with learning new stuff on the court and learning on the fly. With a new system, you just have to really be able to listen and work at it, and they’re gonna do whatever they can to help us be in a winning position.”
Last season, The Mountaineers, led by fifth-year head coach, Jim Fox, finished the season 11–21, 6–12 in Sun Belt play to finish in 10th place, and lost in the first round of the Sun Belt Tournament to Louisiana-Monroe.
2019 App State Basketball Roster:
#4 O’Showen Williams, Guard
#1 Justin Forrest, Guard
#0 Isaac Johnson, Forward
#50 Hunter Seacat, Forward
#24 RJ Wilson, Forward
#20 Adrian Delph, Guard
#5 JC Tharrington, Guard
#12 Andrew Muse, Guard
#14 Bryant Greene, Guard
#11 Donovan Gregory, Forward
#21 James Lewis, Forward
#30 Jamie Baker, Guard
The Mountaineers’ first game comes on November 5 at 7 p.m. vs. Michigan in Ann Arbor.
NOV 5 (TUE) 7 P.M. vs. Michigan, ANN ARBOR, MI
NOV 7 (THU) 7 P.M. vs. Ferrum, BOONE, N.C.
NOV 12 (TUE) 7 P.M. vs. East Carolina University, BOONE, N.C.
NOV 15-18 UNC GREENSBORO TOURNAMENT
(FRI) 4:30 P.M. vs. Tennessee Tech, GREENSBORO, N.C.
(SAT) 4:30 P.M. vs. Montana State, GREENSBORO, N.C.
(MON) 7 P.M.. vs. UNC Greensboro, GREENSBORO, NC
NOV 21 (THU) 7 P.M. vs. Charlotte, BOONE, N.C.
NOV 26 (TUE) 7 P.M. vs. East Tennessee State, JOHNSON CITY, TN
DEC 3 (TUE) 7 P.M. St. Andrews, BOONE, N.C.
DEC 14 (SAT) 12 P.M. vs. Howard, WASHINGTON, DC
DEC 19 (THU) 8 P.M. vs. South Alabama, MOBILE, AL
DEC 21 (SAT) 3 P.M. vs. Troy, TROY, AL
DEC 29 (SUN) 4 P.M. vs. North Carolina State, RALEIGH, N.C.
JAN 2 (THU) 7 P.M. vs. Georgia State, BOONE, N.C.
JAN 4 (SAT) 4 P.M. vs. Georgia Southern, BOONE, N.C.
JAN 6 (MON) 7 P.M. vs. Louisiana, BOONE, N.C.
JAN 9 (THU) 8 P.M. vs. UT Arlington, ARLINGTON, TX
JAN 11 (SAT) 5 P.M. vs. Texas State, MARCOS, TX
JAN 16 (THU) 7 P.M. Arkansas State, BOONE, N.C.
JAN 18 (SAT) 4 P.M. Little Rock, BOONE, N.C.
JAN 25 (SAT) 2 P. vs. Coastal Carolina, CONWAY, SC
JAN 30 (THU) 8 P.M. vs. Arkansas State, JONESBORO, AR.
FEB 1 (SAT) 3 P.M. vs. Little Rock University, LITTLE ROCK, ARK.
FEB 6 (THU) 7 P.M. UT Arlington, BOONE, N.C.
FEB 8 (SAT) 4 P.M. Texas State, BOONE, N.C
FEB 13 (THU) 7 P.M vs. Georgia State ATLANTA, GA.
FEB 15 (SAT) 4 P.M. vs. Georgia Southern, STATESBORO, GA
FEB 20 (THU) 7 P.M. vs. South Alabama, BOONE, N.C.
FEB 22 (SAT) 4 P.M. vs. Troy, BOONE, N.C.
FEB 29 (SAT) 4 P.M. vs. Coastal Carolina, BOONE, N.C.
MAR 3 (TUE) 8 P.M. vs. ULM, MONROE, LA