CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern head men's basketball coach Barclay Radebaugh has led the Buccaneers program to new heights over the past 11 seasons. During his tenure, the Bucs have experienced success both on and off the court with Big South regular season championships and NIT berths in both the 2012-13 and the 2014-15 seasons.
Radebaugh and the Bucs have also turned the Buccaneer Field House into one of the toughest places to visit and get a win in the country with a 75-28 mark at home since 2009, including a 40-19 mark in Big South Conference play. The Buccaneers' success has included various accolades including All-Conference, Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Coach of the Year selections as CSU has become a perennial conference contender.
Radebaugh entered the season as the winningest coach in school history, the sixth-winningest coach in Big South Conference history, and is one of only eight coaches to win multiple Big South Coach of the Year awards.
Coach Radebaugh sat down with the CSU Sports Information staff on Friday morning to talk about the success of the program and the pillars the CSU men's basketball program has been built upon.
What began the conversation to create five pillars for the Charleston Southern men's basketball program?
We started the pillars eight years ago. We wanted to help our players get an entire experience at CSU, so we really reorganized our priorities. As a coaching staff, as we narrowed down our priorities, we came up with five pillars that we wanted to live by.
Those pillars are:
1) Create a Vision
2) Become Dependable Men
3) High Expectations
4) Good Communicators
5) Unconditional Love
How do you help create a vision for the men's basketball team and players?
We want our players to dream big, not only on the basketball court but academically also. In order to do that, we want to create for them a vision of what their life can be like. We ask various questions including what their goals are academically, socially, and athletically, to help create a vision for our athletes that is big and out of their grasp. We create want our players to have a huge vision that will require an incredible amount of work and a strong faith in God.
Overall, we want to have a vision for our basketball program that is lofty; we also want our guys to have a vision of their life can look that is lofty. We want our guys to begin a plan to reach their goals on day one.
What does it mean to become a dependable man?
One of our biggest goals for our players is that they leave here as dependable men. The word dependable means a lot to us as coaches and as a team. The word dependable means that: you're on time, you can be counted on, and that you can be counted on in both the tough times and the good times. We want our players to one day to be dependable fathers, dependable husbands, dependable in their community, their place of employment, and their church. We want them to take on responsibilities and to fulfill those responsibilities in an excellent way.
How valuable in today's society are dependable workers? Guys that are on time, put in a full day's work, show up, and give a great effort. We want our players to be successful in life and we want our guys to leave here prepared to be dependable men. College athletics puts you in a lot of situations that will test you. You have to practice, lift weights, and go to class. If our players are able to be depended on to do that with the intensity level that we demand here, then they will be prepared to be dependable men when they leave CSU.
The program has seen the expectations grow every year during your tenure at CSU. How do you work with those expectations and develop your players to reach their expectations during their time with the Buccaneers?
We want our coaching staff to be pushers and nudge our players into areas of excellence they never thought they could reach. We want them to become better students and better basketball players than they ever thought they could become. We want to attack their weaknesses and we want to teach our players to reach high with high expectations. Academically, athletically, and socially, we want them to reach for a bar and to maintain those high expectations throughout their career.
Sometimes the high expectations can be fatiguing. I've had players come to me after graduation and say, 'Coach, you pushed me so hard.' We are always raising their expectations both on and off the court to continue pushing them to do their very best. I can't tell you the number of times players have come back afterward and said, 'Thank you for pushing me.' A lot of our former players are reaching goals now and doing things they never thought they could. I hope their experience at CSU was a time that helped them learn to reach and achieve.
Good communication is always a key to a program's growth and development. How has recognizing and working on communication helped your program succeed?
Young people today don't communicate as well as previous generations. The continued development and improvements of the cell phone, with all of the different social media outlets, allows people to communicate without ever using a spoken word. We want our guys to learn how to communicate, eyeball-to-eyeball and be able to have man-to-man conversations. Sometimes the conversations are pleasant, sometimes they are tough, but we want them to develop the skills necessary so that when they leave here, they will know how to confidently communicate.
How do you teach communication skills to your players?
We make sure to have face-to-face conversations with our players frequently. Our assistant coaches meet with them in-person multiple times during the week. Our coaches sit down with our players one-on-one to review the film, review academics, review expectations, and to talk about their performance on the court. I also have numerous meetings each month with the players where we talk about expectations, how they are doing socially and emotionally, and how their families are doing. It allows us to teach our young men how to communicate and to build trust. All positive relationships have a foundation of trust and honest communication.
A pillar that is not often thought of, but plays a huge role in the CSU basketball program is Unconditional Love. How important is Unconditional Love, and what does that mean to you?
This really is the foundation of what we've tried to accomplish here at Charleston Southern. We genuinely love these guys. I'll tell them I love them often. Love is the strongest of the emotions. Genuine, real love is powerful and motivating.
I want assistant coaches that have a genuine interest in working with players; coaches who want to invest time and effort into the lives of our athletes. The best way to do that is love. A large number of our players come into CSU with a distorted view of what real, genuine Godly love is. We want them to learn how to give and receive love. Don't get me wrong, we need physical and mental toughness, determination, enthusiasm, and perseverance. We need to learn how to compete and fight. We have to be physical and well-conditioned. We have to be fundamentally sound and learn how to execute at a high level while under stress. I just believe you can accomplish all of these things and still unconditionally love our players. Love is always stronger.
All five pillars are important to the CSU men's basketball program. What made you choose these five?
I've been the head coach here for 12 years and most of it has been trial and error, and prayer. We want our players to have a great experience at Charleston Southern and to grow, not just as a basketball player, but most importantly, as a man. We came up with these five pillars to help us reach these goals.
How often are the pillars discussed?
We talk a lot about these pillars. Our players know how important they are to us. They know that we love them and our players know we want them to be dependable. They actually joke and tease each other after they do something well by saying, 'I'm a dependable man'. We want them to reach their expectations and we want to push them to grow daily. We incorporate these five pillars into everything that we do, every practice, every pre-practice meeting, every film session, and every Bible study. These five pillars are foundational to our program.
What has been the impact on the program since the pillars were implemented?
I think it's helped our success on the court. We're rebuilding and growing as a basketball team on the court right now. What this has done over the last eight years is give us a foundation. We are rebuilding again based on our five pillars. We believe that these five pillars will give our young team the foundation to succeed. We want a balance of personal growth and basketball growth. We want to have a well-rounded and complete basketball program.
What is the final goal of the pillars?
We want our players to leave here as dependable men. Men that can be counted on as husbands, fathers, and employees. We also want our players to leave here with a degree. We want our players to also achieve their basketball goals and to become everything they can as a team and an individual basketball player. If we've done that, then we've done a good job.
How do the pillars help your fans look at the team?
We want our fans and alumni to view our program as a well-rounded, complete program. There is no doubt that we are striving to hang another banner in our rafters, but I want our program to be more than just basketball. It's an absolute privilege to be a college coach and with that privilege comes great responsibility. We have the responsibility to love these young men, help them prepare for life, and to help them leave Charleston Southern and be ready to be used however and wherever God chooses to use them. Whether it's professional basketball or a career in another profession, we want our players to be ready to be dependable men. We also want them to care about others and realize there is more to life than basketball. We want them to be ready to contribute to society.
How do you continue to work with the pillars through the remainder of the 2016-17 season?
We will work hard every day to create a huge vision for our players. We will push them hard to be dependable. We will raise the base of expectations. We will strive to be great communicators and we will love our team unconditionally. What a privilege, what a responsibility, what an honor!