The men’s basketball team had become accustomed to former Assistant Coach Nevada Smith’s intensity on the sideline, but current Assistant Coach Jon Tanous is taking a more laid-back approach with the Bombers.
Tanous joined the coaching staff this year after six years as an assistant at his alma mater, SUNY-Potsdam, and Smith became head coach of the men’s basketball team at Keystone College.
The Bombers’ new coach filled multiple roles while at Potsdam, working in the Office of Admissions in addition to coaching and recruiting for the Bears. He was also a shooting guard for four years.
Tanous said his experience making presentations to high school juniors and seniors at college fairs helped his communication and recruiting skills. His ability to focus solely on his responsibilities with the team was one of the main reasons he came to South Hill.
“A lot of friends that I have are coaching at the Division III level,” Tanous said. “Some of them are high school teachers or working sales and going to coach, so they can’t put their whole attention to the basketball program. This was nice to be able to come and coach and teach a couple classes, which makes it very easy and more enjoyable to be at.”
Bears’ Head Coach Sherry Dobbs said Tanous’ personable attitude toward college students has helped him become a coach the players trust.
“He understands what it’s like to be a college athlete, so he’s been in those guys’ shoes,” Dobbs said. “He communicates well with people and with the players. He truly wants to see guys achieve to their highest potential.”
Sophomore center Tom Sweeney said Tanous’ stoicism helps the team remain level-headed.
“We know whenever we get into trouble or any adversity, he’ll be calm and he reacts to everything the same way,” Sweeney said. “Whether we’re up big or losing, he doesn’t really change his demeanor.”
Tanous had individual meetings with each player at the beginning of the season, putting an emphasis on defense. He said though the Bombers have lost some close games, things are still looking up.
“We’re playing pretty good defense, but a couple more stops here and a couple more stops there — four out of our six losses were decided by five points or less — and we’re right in the ballpark,” he said.
Tanous’ role on the team has been more of another head coach rather than assistant to Head Coach Jim Mullins. Senior guard Jordan Marcus said Tanous’ influence has been beneficial for the entire team.
“Mullins is a great coach obviously, but he likes to have a second opinion,” he said. “Tanous has a lot of power. He’s a guy you can come to that knows what he’s doing.”