After working as an assistant coach at SIUE for two years, Brian Barone has been named Interim head coach for the men’s basketball team, following Jon Harris, whose contract was not renewed after four seasons.
“He comes from a tremendous background in the sport of men’s basketball, not only from his family but for those he’s worked for,” Athletic Director Brad Hewitt said. “Coach Barone brought the best total skill sets to step forward and take over the program.”
Interim Head Coach Barone said three factors contributed to his promotion.
“Relationships, communication and hard work is very important to me,” Barone said. “There are a lot of people who value those three things within this department, and it worked out when they decided to make the change. [The department] felt that I could instill those values into the team.”
Barone is the son of Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame Coach Tony Barone and has coached for over 15 years at Division I, two of those as assistant coach at SIUE.
He was the director of basketball operations/video coordinator at Indiana University in 2008 after serving the 2007-08 campaign as the coordinator of basketball operations and video coordinator at Marquette University.
Barone joined Green Bay for five years for their 2010-15 seasons. During his time at Green Bay, Barone rose to associate head coach and helped guide the team to a 95-65 (.594) overall record.
Barone also has experience in the junior college ranks. He coached at Butler Community College, Garden City Community College and Central Florida Community College.
Barone said he plans to bring a new sense of energy to the team.
“[Something new I want to bring to the team] I think is energy every single day. That’s the biggest thing, we are going to have great energy and that will carry over to the games, but it starts now,” Barone said. “I think the guys want to be coached, they crave it, they know the energy I will bring and that’s one of the biggest assets our team is going to put great value on.”
Being an assistant coach for two years at SIUE, Barone said he has built a relationship with the team and plans to use that in their development.
“We have a unique opportunity to talk about what we are going to do, how things are going to be and the culture it is going to be,” Barone said. “I’ve told them several times we are going to work on your weaknesses, and we are going to strengthen your strengths and I’ve had two years of seeing these guys’ strengths and weaknesses, so I think we have a little bit of an advantage because we can get to work sooner than later.”
As a player, Barone played two seasons at Texas A&M where he earned honorable mention all-Big XII honors as a sophomore during the 1997-98 season.
Barone transferred to Marquette and completed his playing career in 2001 and earned a bachelor's in communications from Marquette in 2000. He went on to complete a master's in communications at MU in 2002.
Barone said he plans to improve on teamwork.
“I take great pride in our defense, [but] we need to be a more defensive and energetic team and I also want to take much better pride in moving the ball,” Barone said. “I think that’s a more fun brand of basketball to see and it’s also more of a team concept because we involve everybody, and we’ll have more success that way.”
Assistant Coaches Charles Wells and Mike Waldo, as well as Director of Operations Casey Wyllie will return to the SIUE men’s basketball staff.
Senior liberal studies major Colin Suhre, from Edwardsville, said he believes it’s a good idea to keep the assistant coaches for the next season with the new leadership change.
“It helps with recruiting new players if there is still some stability in the organization. Instability scares players off because the new coaches come in and they use playing time as a way to get kids to come [to their school] to play and old players then usually get benched or don’t get playing time anymore,” Suhre said. “I think it’s a very smart decision to hold together as much continuity with the team as possible while they are going through this process.”
Barone said the team is excited to start working on the 2019-20 season.
“I met with everyone on the team the last couple of days and there’s a genuine excitement to establish a culture and a winning tradition that this community and [the players] crave,” Barone said.