BATH TOWNSHIP – Compete. Compete. Compete.
That is the mantra new Bath head coach Adam Burris keeps repeating a number of times while being interviewed before his game against Lima Central Catholic and discussing what he would like to see in the Wildcats’ future.
Burris, who played at Bluffton High School and Bluffton University, has taken over a Wildcat program this season that has gone 30-87 overall the last five seasons and he is hoping to bring back those winning ways to the school.
Burris’ journey to Bath stems from a passion for basketball and him wanting to get involved in coaching. He began instructing youth programs and then got an opportunity to be a junior high coach at Bluffton followed by a stint as a varsity assistant at Pandora-Gilboa.
Burris got his first coaching opportunity at North Baltimore when he took over the girls’ program for three years and then spent the last two seasons overseeing the boys’ program.
After the two years at North Baltimore, Burris saw the opening for the Bath and consulted with one of his current assistants Pat Prichard, who has a son on the team, sophomore Lucas Prichard, and athletic director Todd Flaherty, and was also interested in the challenge.
“It intrigued me because it was a challenge and I like a challenges,” Burris said. “I did that at North Baltimore with the boys and the girls for a different type of challenge and this is intriguing to me and that was the main reason I took the position.”
Burris was influenced by his past coaches and coaches he has been under and takes a little from each one as his foundation for coaching.
“Locally Pat Prichard was my high school coach, along with Chad Shutler who is the women’s university coach at Bluffton and I get a lot of stuff from coach (Gary) Neal, men’s basketball coach at Bluffton University,” Burris said. “Those are the type of guys I can contact with a simple phone call so it is nice to have those.”
Additionally, Burris added that he is a big fan of former Cincinnati and current West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins and likes to his philosophy on coaching
Unlike the fiery Huggins, Burris describes his style as laid back but like Huggins can bring the passion when it is called upon.
“I am pretty laid back for the most part until something fires me up,” Burris said. “I am very passionate about basketball and sometimes I present a more even keeled approah until something excites me.”
Burris is hoping to push some of that passion onto the current players and said a lot of them already have a love for basketball, but more importantly, a strong desire to win, something that they have not have experienced all that much. Last season, the Wildcats won one game.
“I just want to challenge them and get better each day,” Burris said. “We have had good practices each week. They want to be here and they want to win. They don’t come into practice to lose every day and I know they have had a lot of success at the youth levels. The core of the team are sophomores and they have been successful and they want to win which is nice.”
Wins have been hard to come by early in the season as the Wildcats have lost their first four contests, Burris tries to focus on the positives and said all four games, he has seen his team battle until the end.
Take for example, the game against Lima Central Catholic Tuesday. The Thunderbirds opened up as much as a 26 point lead but the Wildcats fought and eventually lost by 11, 78-67.
“We try to find the small victories in things,” Burris said. “In our first three games we were in it. Against Bluffton we grabbed the lead, against LCC (in the tip-off classic) we got to within two and Elida we tied it up multiple times and we just have to get over that hump and I think that makes the kids and that makes us a little more hungry at practice knowing that we are this close of getting over it,” Burris said. “We have to get off the losing schneid quicker than later.”
Burris remains confident this team can begin the process of turning things around this year primarily due to senior leadership. The Wildcats have five seniors on the roster.
“Derek Grigsby has been a through a lot and he does not want to lose,” Burris said. “He is determined and wants to lead this young group that we have moving forward and I think our younger guys who are used to winning now are seeing the losses and they don’t want to lose anymore. They want to get back to their winning ways.”
Burris added that he knows the players are motivated to win when he conducts film sessions and the players are self-analyzing and looking to make improvements as individuals and as a team.
Burris understands that is not going to be easy as Western Buckeye League play begins Friday. Bath travels to Kenton for the league opener.
Kenton comes into the game with a 2-2 mark.
“If we can rattle off one or two wins it will change the trajectory of what expect, Burris said. “Obviously we want to compete in the conference. It is a very tough conference with Ottawa and Shawnee and the Defiance’s of the world so to put lofty expectations against those senior laden team is tough but if we can be middle of the pack it will definitely a win in our books.”
In other WBL games, Elida (2-2) travels to Ottawa-Glandorf (2-0), Shawnee (3-0) heads to Celina (0-3), Wapakoneta (2-1) makes the short jaunt to St. Marys (2-1) and Defiance (2-1) makes its way to Van Wert (1-2).