JUCO NEWS: Robert Kirby named head basketball coach at Three Rivers College – HoopDirt

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JUCO NEWS: Robert Kirby named head basketball coach at Three Rivers College – HoopDirt

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Three Rivers College has named Robert Kirby as head men’s basketball coach. TRC released the following statement announcing this decision:

Three Rivers College enjoyed one of the brightest moments in its history by selecting the next coach of the Raiders men’s basketball team.

TRC announced Monday that it has hired Robert Kirby to become the fourth men’s basketball coach in program history. He is also the first head men’s basketball coach since 1970 who is not a member of the Bess family.

Kirby played at Three Rivers – and for Naismith Hall of Fame coach Gene Bess – from 1978 to 1980 and was a member of the Raiders’ first national championship team in 1979. He finished his playing career at Texas- Pan American, now known as Texas. -Rio Grande Valley, before beginning a 40-year coaching career.

Kirby said returning to his alma mater was “awesome.”

“It’s been really good for me to come back to an area that I know very, very well, the surrounding area and the campus and the people there,” Kirby said.

Kirby coached at Kenesaw State University in Georgia last season and has been an assistant coach at the Division I level since 1985. He coached 16 years at Mississippi State (1989-93, 1998-2010), seven years at Georgetown (2010-12, 2017-22) – including five years on Naismith Hall of Fame Patrick Ewing’s coaching staff with the Hoyas – and has also coached at Houston, Memphis, Ole Miss, Louisiana State, Arkansas-Little Rock and southeastern Louisiana.

Kirby has coached several future NBA players at the Division I level, including Otto Porter Jr., a Scott County Central graduate who just concluded an 11-year NBA career that included a 2022 championship with Golden State Warriors. Other NBA players Kirby has coached include Erick Dampier, Damon Jones, Jonathan Bender and Monta Ellis.

But his coaching philosophy was shaped by his two years playing for Bess at Three Rivers.

“As I got older, I understood the values ​​of life that he was teaching us about how to be productive young men after we (shared),” Kirby said. “Not just playing basketball and winning a game while we were there. … We talked about the next 40 years of children’s lives, not just the next two.

After winning 13 Region 16 titles from 1989 to 2010 and making eight state tournament appearances during that span – including a national title in 1992 and runner-up finishes in 1994 and 2010 – Three Rivers has won just two titles of Region 16 for the past 14 seasons, hasn’t appeared in the national tournament since 2012 and has just two winning seasons since its last Region 16 title in 2017.

Kirby intends to return the Raiders to the top of Region 16 and return to perennial national contender status.

“We’re used to winning,” Kirby said. “Winning is at the forefront of my mind when it comes to college – going in there and working extremely hard to prepare a team and build a team, a championship-caliber team.”

And Kirby plans to bring a Gene Bess-like philosophy to the Raiders.

“Have you heard the expression ‘ripping up the old block?’ “, Kirby said. “With the things that Coach Bess has instilled in us, every player that has come here is about discipline, about being on time for the things that they do, about being confident and enthusiastic about it. respect for what he does – and doing it the right way It’s about discipline and hard work – and the team will be built with trust and love.

When Kirby played at Three Rivers, the Raiders played their home games at Peters Gymnasium on the campus of what is now Poplar Bluff Middle School and practiced at the Sears Youth Center in north Poplar Bluff.

When Kirby coaches his first game here next season, it will be at the Libla Family Sports Complex, one of the top junior college facilities in the country that opened in 2020.

“The facilities are phenomenal – the buildings and school are much more improved than what we encountered when we went there as freshmen (in the late 1970s),” Kirby said. “But the change has been positive. The weather has been really good for college, but in a good way. … Every sport has just blossomed.

Finally, Kirby is excited to come home after 44 years away.

“That’s the best part about being in Trois-Rivières and dealing with the people who are in Poplar Bluff,” Kirby said. “They love the university, they love the Raiders of all sports. You have the chance to participate in this authenticity, in this love. It makes a difference – you feel it.

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