Brett Weiberg plans to bring back the winning tradition that once saw the Western men’s basketball program as a perennial contender under Tom Smith, but there are things that he won’t sacrifice to get there.
“It will be a little bit of a process, but I’m willing to be patient,” Weiberg said of a turnaround after three straight losing seasons. “What we wont be patient with is effort and character and trying to do the best we can do. Above everything else, we want to do it with good people and develop a culture of just competing.”
The 38-year-old Weiberg’s only head coaching experience is the last seven years at Northern Oklahoma, where he racked up 125 wins including a 27-4 record and a conference championship this past season. However, his experience in basketball goes far beyond what his resume shows.
Weiberg spent his entire life around basketball and took over the Northern Oklahoma program from his legendary father after serving five years under him as an assistant. He’s taking over for a legend once again at Western as Tom Smith held the head coaching position for the past 25 years.
“I’m just looking forward to continuing the winning tradition that he’s established,” Weiberg said. “It’s been done here and been done here for a long time. He will be someone that I will lean on greatly and I’m hoping that will be just fine with him.”
Although Smith built the program into a perennial winner in the past, the team has suffered through three consecutive losing seasons including a 10-17 mark this past season. Weiberg believes he can get the program back to its winning ways by finding the right mix of talent and character.
“We are going to play hard, we will play with passion, we will play together and we are going to have fun doing it,” Weiberg said. “I am a competitor, It’s part of who I am and how I was raised and we are going to have young men in here that will compete every single night.”
Weiberg stated that he will not sacrifice character and integrity when recruiting players. While Smith chose to only get his players from the junior college ranks, Weiberg plans to build a base of players straight out of high school and add transfers to push them over the top.
At Northern Oklahoma, he graduated 80 percent of players with an associates degree and will place heavy importance on making sure his teams graduate at Western.
“It’s the promise that I make every single mom and dad when I recruit them,” Weiberg said. “If they are willing to put the effort in then we are going to get them out of here with a degree. That’s going to be a challenge and something that we are going to do and really push these young men.”
The hire is Athletic Director Kurt McGuffin’s second during his time at Western. The first was women’s coach Rob Edmisson, who took the program from nine to 16 wins in his first season. McGuffin has known Weiberg and his family for eight years.
“They stand for everything I think all of us should stand for in athletics and that’s character, integrity and work ethic,” McGuffin said. “We’re going to get a guy who has been in it, grew up with it. He was born to coach in my opinion, he followed his dad around to many different spots and lived the game.”
Weiberg says his team will play mostly man-to-man defense and will play it tough. His team at Northern Oklahoma led the country in opponent field goal percentage and 3-point percentage last season. Offensively, the Griffons will run a motion offense tweaked to fit the individual talent on the team.
“The way we play gives you a chance to win on the road too,” Weiberg said. “It gives you an opportunity to get physical, be solid and take great shots and really make it difficult for the other team to score. Those are recipes to win anywhere but especially on the road.”