The never-ending experiment...

Bluefield College head coach Richard Morgan talks to his team during a time out in a regular season college basketball game in the 2018-19 basketball season at The Dome Gymnasium. Morgan has been doing what he can to prepare for next year’s season while cooped up during the coronavirus pandemic.

BLUEFIELD, Va. — College basketball coaches are always striving to find ways to improve their programs each year. Bluefield College Men’s Basketball head coach Richard Morgan is doing that while taking advantage of more free time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The former University of Virginia guard, who has coached for the Rams since 2009, is spending a lot of his time listening to podcasts from others in his profession to gain insight he can use when sports finally resume.

“What I’ve really been doing is listening to podcasts of other coaches and seeing what they do and listening to their problems and concerns, what worked for them, what didn’t work for them,” Morgan said.

Something that Morgan continues to adapt to is the different type of players that are entering the collegiate ranks from the past.

 More players believe they are the next superstar as they are repeatedly told that growing up. Once they step onto a college court they have a long ways to go to become a star.

“It’s a different breed of kids and they’ve been told all this stuff when they coming up through the ranks. And now they get to you and they think they’re supposed to be one thing — and they’re really something else,” Morgan said.

Having other coaches talk about the same issue, Morgan knows it’s not something unique to him. It’s happening across the country at all levels and it leads to ideas about how to deal with the problem under discussion.

“Just hearing it from another coach that you’re not the only team that’s having that problem ...  I think from that standpoint it helps me as well. The other thing is just talking things out with them,” Morgan said.

The final game of this past season was February 22 for Bluefield College although the work didn’t stop there. The coaching staff was back in the gym helping players learn from problems that popped up during the season.

“That’s when I can get them better, I can get in the gym with them and show them exactly what wasn’t successful during the season,” Morgan said.

Now the players are all back home for the rest of the summer while continuing to work out as the Rams will hit the ground running when they return to campus.

“We need them to stay the course, keep working and then once they get here we’ll deal with all the changes that are going to occur,” Morgan said.

The pandemic has changed recruiting for the Rams, which is led by assistant coach Ryan Moody, with the staff unable to meet with players on the campus and phone calls taking their place.

“Now you can’t see the kids that you want to bring in, the kids have to go on and look at virtual tour and you get to talk to them over the phone. You don’t get to talk to them in person, get their body language,” Morgan said.

Instead of recruiting players that the staff had not seen, they went back to the players that they had identified earlier. Those players may have had higher aspirations but with all the uncertainty are wanting to make a decision instead of holding out for a dream offer.

Morgan is pleased with the players that are being brought in to fill the holes in the roster the staff identified as a result of graduations and transfers.

“We knew what we needed, we went out and got it and its been great from there,” Morgan said. “I’m really excited about the new guys and the old guys coming back.”

The Rams return point guard Jermiah Jenkins who averaged 15 points a game as a junior but graduated Niquan Cousins who scored 14.8 points a game and is looking to see if he can play professionally.

With this upcoming year’s team having different strengths to last year’s team, the coaching staff is making slight alterations to set the team up for success.

“We been in the laboratory and been able to try looking at some different things for what would be best for this team,” Morgan said.

A veteran coach Morgan has seen changes occur throughout his life and knows that when embraced, change can lead to success.

“Change is good and fighting through adversity is even better,” Morgan said. “We’ll take the hand we’re dealt and we’ll try to see if we can get a championship out of it.”

— Contact sports@bdtonline.com

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