Matthews anxious to get started as new Bryant girls basketball coach

By Rob Patrick

“I’m excited about the opportunity,” declared Brad Matthews after being approved to become the new head coach of the Bryant Lady Hornets basketball team.

Matthews, a graduate of Oak Grove High School and UCA, has been the head coach at Benton Harmony Grove over the last three years.

“I’m excited to be a part of Bryant girls basketball,” he continued. “They have great tradition there. Coach (Blake) Condley has continued that great tradition. I appreciate and understand the legacy of what is Bryant girls basketball.”

Matthews acknowledged the challenge of competing in the 7A-Central Conference.

“I think I have a general understanding of the 7A-Central and the high level of basketball that’s played in that conference, the really good players and the really good coaches that are in that conference night in and night out,” he related. “And that’s why I wanted the job. I want the opportunity to compete at that level and to be a part of girls basketball at the highest level in Arkansas. The 7A-Central has proven itself as, if not the toughest, one of the two or three toughest conferences in the state with arguably the best coaches in the state. That’s where I want to compete at and Bryant offers a great opportunity to do that. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Matthews is married to a Bryant alum, the former Carol Wallace. They have one child, a 5-year-old girl, Abby.

Before he became coach at Harmony Grove, Matthews served as the junior high girls coach at Sheridan one year. He coached at Glen Rose for six years prior to that after assisting Clay Reeves at Greenland when the Lady Pirates won a pair of State championships.

“I’ve taken a lot from Coach Reeves (now at Greenwood),” he said. “He’s been one of the winningest coaches in the state the last 10 years. He’s won multiple State championships. That’s really where I cut my teeth, coaching with Clay, how he runs a program day in and day out.“We’re going to try to build a program and we’re going to emphasize three things,” Matthews explained. “If you can defend, rebound and take care of the ball, that’s really what we’re going to build our program on.

“And there’s different ways to do that in terms of defense but those three things are the pillars of a successful program, whether it be girls or boys or senior high or junior high,” he added. “Teams that can defend, rebound and take care of the ball always give themselves a chance to win. Then, on the nights you shoot it well, you’re really going to be successful.”

As to his approach beyond that, Matthews said, “What style of offense we play, what style defense, I think you have to base that on who you have on your team. That’ll change. It’s not like in college where they recruit to their system. I think high school coaches have to adapt to their players.

“So I’m not going to be married to a system,” he added. “There may be times when we need to walk the ball up the floor to get into a half-court game. Or other years where you have the players where you need to get out and run to let them be successful. I think you have to put your kids in the best position for them to have success. At the high school level, that’s going to change from year to year based on talent, athleticism.”

Matthews hopes to get started soon.

“I’m looking forward to meeting the kids,” he stated. “We’ll set up a time when we don’t take the kids away from other things with soccer and softball going on right now. I’m anxious to meet them and excited to get going. Hopefully, the girls are too.

“There’s work to be done. We don’t want to let time slip by. All of a sudden, the summer’s over and we haven’t really accomplished what we want to. We work hard in the summer. We think that’s where you really make a lot of progress as individuals and as a team.”

Regarding his Harmony Grove teams, Matthews said, “We’ve made progress. Each year, we got a little bit better. I think that people look at the program we have here and they can see the progress we’ve made.”

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