Originally created 04/09/06

Nobles guides his players on, off court



Steve Nobles has the same haircut as Dr. Phil, but that's not the only similarity. After this season, the Richmond Academy coach also has plenty of clinical expertise about dealing with people problems.

A little back story is essential to understand The Augusta Chronicle's All-Area Georgia Boys Coach of the Year.

The book on Richmond Academy's team in 2004-05 was they had talent to win. Win big. They didn't because they could never play as a team.

The Musketeers won often this season. And as they did, most area observers felt Richmond Academy was finally playing how it should have all along.

Examination of the season reveals that to be 2-cent logic.

In the Region 3-AAA Tournament, Richmond won a 69-64 thriller against Glenn Hills to advance to the state playoffs. Nobles was asked how big of a heartbreak it would have been for his team to lose and be eliminated from the postseason.

"On the surface it would have been bad," Nobles said. "But life's not lived on the surface. It's lived deep in the heart. I've got a player on my team that lost his mother before school started. I've got another kid who lost his brother. That's two deaths. I've got another kid whose parents are going through a tough divorce. Sure, not making the state playoffs would have been bad. But in the grand scheme of life, the young men on this team know there is more to it than this game."

Forget about 1-3-1 defenses and motion offenses, it's impressive for any coach to keep a team like that together. Much less win 20 games.

"I always want an open rapport with my players," Nobles said. "They may not agree with what I might say, but the one thing I try to do is to give them a little perspective about the way another person might see their situation. I'm supposed to be a coach. But the reality is the job has a lot more that goes into it than that."

The on-court expertise was there, but the fact he was always there for his players when the dribbles stopped created a productive coaching platform.

The only thing he didn't want to hear from any of his players was anyone accepting failure or trying to quit at anything in their life.

"Coach Nobles is like a father to some of the guys that maybe didn't have a father figure in their life," junior point guard Trevor Welcher said. "I can only imagine all the questions he fielded during the day about his players' personal lives. He's got a knack for listening and putting what he knows in there to try and help. I know he's my coach. But I consider him to be a great mentor and one of my very best friends."

Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or jeff.sentell@augustachronicle.com.