Last Tuesday Chris Vandiver was approved the Pontotoc County School Board as the new boys basketball coach at South Pontotoc. He replaces Shane Murphree, who had led the Cougar boys since 2014.
Vandiver will also teach math at the school. Vandiver is a South Pontotoc graduate who previously served as head boys coach for the Cougars from 2005-10. Vandiver's most recent head coaching role was at Pontotoc High School, where he went 118-67 in a successful 6-year stint from 2012-2018. He spent the past two years as an assistant at Tupelo High School.
"We are excited to welcome coach Vandiver home to his alma mater," said South Pontotoc principal Brant Puckett. "There is an excitement in the air about the future of the program under coach Vandiver. We know that he will continue to build on the successes had by coach (Shane) Murphree. Coach Vandiver is a proven leader, coach, and most importantly developer of young men."
"I think anytime you take a new job you feel like it is going to be your last one, but I know this is it for me," Vandiver said. "I've got two younger kids, a 6th grader and a 3rd grader, so it is not just about me now. It is a lot about them. I'm excited for them to go to school at South, a school I love."
With the high school and wider sports world ground to a halt due to COVID-19, Vandiver is not sure exactly when he will be able to begin working with his new team. Right now the program is renovating the weight room area of the gym.
"I haven't met any of the kids," Vandiver said. "We just want to improve in every area that we can. We are focusing on improving the facilities. That's all we can do right now, so when they get back it will be a new look for them, and hopefully we will have improved it to the point to where it is something they can be proud of.
"As for the team goes, I don't know them; so I am not sure what kind of style we can play. I will probably have to adapt what I have done in the past a little, but you still have to try to get the best shots and try to prevent the opponent from getting good shots. Whatever we do will be centered around that."
South was able to experience a good amount of success by playing fundamentally sound basketball during Vandiver's first tenure as a head coach, when Cougars went 79-68. Regardless of whatever specific schemes and styles end up being deployed, that will be a big part of the program once again.
"If you do enough things correctly for long enough there is no place you can't win," Vandiver said. "It is not all about size and athleticism. You don't have to look far. Ingomar is proving that it doesn't take 6'9 guys that can jump out of the gym to win. Winning is determined by who does the most stuff right. It will be a matter of doing it over and over and the kids buying in."