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Friday, May 24, 2024

William & Mary Officially Introduces Brian Earl as Men’s Basketball Coach

William & Mary Athletic Director Brian Mann introduces new head men’s basketball coach Brian Earl on Wednesday, March 27 at Kaplan Arena. (Screenshot)

WILLIAMSBURG — William & Mary Athletics formally introduced new men’s basketball head coach Brian Earl on Wednesday in the President’s Suite at Zable Stadium.

Director of Athletics Brian Mann introduced Earl, fresh off a season at Cornell where he led the Big Red to 22 wins — tied for second-most in school history — and a first-ever bid to the NIT. Earl was named the National Basketball Coaches Association District 13 Coach of the Year. In his seven seasons in Ithaca, Earl led the Big Red to four  Ivy League Tournament appearances.

“Brian was interesting to me from the moment I was introduced to him,” Mann said. “In 2016 he was named the head coach at Cornell and steadily, each year, built them into a powerhouse in the Ivy League. And he did it by playing fast.”

Of the announcement of Earl’s selection as the next head coach of the Tribe, Mann said, “I wish we had announced him a few days earlier but they (Cornell) kept winning. Making it all the way into the NIT — and for any of those that watched what they did to Ohio State, they gave them absolutely everything they could handle all the way down to the wire.”

“I’ll tell any of you who’s going to be in Kaplan Arena starting this fall. Use the restroom beforehand, because you’re gonna miss out if you get out of your seat,” he added.

The 1999 Ivy League Player of the Year at Princeton, Earl graduated with a degree in economics in 1999. He also served as an assistant and associate head coach at Princeton over nine seasons.

Earl said he was drawn to William & Mary by an important combination of factors.

“Why William & Mary? For me, it’s because of education and athletics. And I’ll steal a term from a friend — education through athletics. And that’s important to me,” Earl explained. “And in the world we’re entering now, where there are words like ‘portal’ and ‘NIL’ and everything that has to go with that, having been at the institutions I went to and graduated from, what I know is the impact of a William & Mary degree is invaluable as you enter your life after basketball.”

“I’ve been at institutions where players I’ve coached, teammates I’ve played with, classmates are out there running the world. And that’s what our alumni will do in the world,” he added. “And so I believe in that, and I think it’s incredibly valuable the education that you receive here, the experiences that you have while on campus here, and then 113,000 alumni who are out there, ready to help you when the time comes. And so, for me, it was it was a no-brainer.”

New William & Mary men’s basketball head coach Brian Earl speaks at an introductory news conference in the President’s Suite at Zable Stadium Wednesday, March 27. (Screenshot)

Looking toward the future, Earl said those factors would be foremost in his mind as he built the program.

“From a basketball perspective, we will recruit young men and families who understand what I just said, how valuable this is for the rest of your lives,” Earl said. “And we have exceptional young men here, who I promise we’ll represent William & Mary basketball, and William & Mary the institution every day they’re on campus and while they’re a part of this program. They will understand the value of the degree the education and the connections.

When asked if he could be the one to get William & Mary over the hump and into the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, Earl said he was up to the challenge.

“I am competitive. I have a switch on me, and so we will compete … but we want to be competing for everything we can every minute of every day,” he said. “And so I’m less of a ‘there’s that thing in the distance, let’s go get that by March of this year’ — as these guys know, there’s been a lot of injuries that happen and so stuff happens — but for me, it’s the next moment. How hard did you go right there? Are you working on your shot? What can we do to stop College of Charleston? What’s next?”

“And so, I dream of NCAA tournaments, I played in them I’ve coached in them. I didn’t get there at Cornell, but I’m dying to do it here,” he added.

Earl ran a high-scoring offense this year at Cornell, yet is a product of one of the more disciplined offenses in college basketball, the Princeton offense of the legendary Pete Carril. On what philosophy he plans to bring to William & Mary, Earl said it will adapt based on personnel.

“My philosophy is do what’s necessary with the guys that you have to try to come out with some wins,” he said.

“I went out there and watched our guys — they like each other, and they support each other. And I don’t like to get in the way of that. They brought it in, and yelled family, and when I see something that needs to be addressed culturally, I’ll do it, but they seem to really like each other,” he said. “And that’s the biggest part of culture. You can have slogans and pillars, but these are good people, exceptional people … and I sort of let them figure it out until they need a little reminder from me from time to time.”

Of what fans and alums can bring to the table, Earl said it was simple.

“Number one is cheer. President Rowe already leads the charge in that, and I’m excited for that. But support that, let the guys know that you’re out there physically supporting them,” Earl said. “Be there, present for these athletes. Not just mine, but all athletes. They put it out there for William & Mary, and so when you have a chance, support them if they’re in the city that you’re in, or come to a practice and get to know all the athletes, because that’s what we’re selling them on and that’s how it works.”

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