‘It really hasn’t hit me yet:’ Brown adjusts quickly as WSU’s interim head coach

Wichita State Assistant Coach Isaac Brown calls a play during the exhibition game against Catawba.

Selena Favela

Wichita State Assistant Coach Isaac Brown calls a play during the exhibition game against Catawba.

For the first time since 2007, Gregg Marshall will not be the head coach when Wichita State begins its new basketball season.

Instead, Isaac Brown, who has served as assistant coach for six seasons, will head those responsibilities. Brown was named interim head coach this season following the resignation of Marshall on Tuesday.

Even though this is a new atmosphere for the Shockers, Brown and his players are keeping their heads in the game, Brown said in a press conference Friday.

“I’ve just been trying to focus on practice and making sure we’re going hard and making sure we’re organized, making sure we’re prepared, watching film,” Brown said. “Meeting with the players, making sure everyone’s good in the classroom and the basketball court. 

So, it really hasn’t hit me yet. I’ve just been so tied up with the entire staff on just making sure these guys are good on the practice court and off the court.”

Brown has previously served as an assistant coach at four other universities — South Alabama, Arkansas, Arkansas State and Louisiana Tech — before arriving at WSU in 2014. He will also be the first African American head coach in the history of the WSU basketball program. 

Brown said that he’s honored and flattered about the promotion but hasn’t had time to reflect on it yet. 

“For the most part I’ve just been focused so much on those guys and making sure they’re good off the court,” Brown said. “Our staff has just been preparing for practice, we’ve been watching a lot of film. So, I hadn’t had much time to reflect on it but again I’m honored, I’m flattered but I’m just trying to make sure these guys are prepared.”

Brown said that it will be an adjustment in his coaching style as he begins to make that adjustment from assistant to head coach.

“I think being an assistant coach, when a guy came out of the game, I was always being positive with them all the time and now it comes down to we have to win the game,” Brown said. “I just want to make sure that I let these guys know that it’s all about winning, I want to love on them after the game but in the heat of the moment we have to try to win and we have to stick together throughout the year.”

Given his experience as an assistant coach at the Division-I level, Brown said that he has been able to learn something from everybody that he’s worked for in the past.

“You work with some guys, they’re defensive mindset guys some guys are offensive guys,” Brown said. “So, I’ve taken a lot from a lot of different coaches. I like our style that we have here at Wichita State, I think it works.”

Brown said that Shocker fans shouldn’t expect many changes in the play style when the team takes the court Saturday. He is content with the blueprint that has already been put in place and wants to maintain that style of play.

“I’m going to try to push the ball in transition to get easy baskets on offense,” Brown said. “When we can’t get an easy basket in transition, we’ll run a set to put a player in a position where they can score. Defensively, it’ll be the same thing we’ll get after teams, try to make them uncomfortable. We want to defend, we want to rebound and play with toughness.”

Following Brown’s promotion, the coaching staff has one opening. Brown said that they are expecting to discuss that opening later this week but remain focused on their opening game at Utah State.

“We’re supposed to be talking about that stuff later on in the week but again, we’re just focusing on practice, Utah State and making sure these guys are prepared for that first game,” Brown said. “I’m sure that’s something we’ll look at pretty soon but right now we’re just focused on practice.”

The Shockers will make their 2020-21 season debut against Utah State on Nov. 25 in the quarterfinals of the Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.