3:06pm: Hotline with Dave Weekley

Darian DeVries welcomed as West Virginia men’s basketball coach

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Darian DeVries hadn’t yet been in West Virginia for a full 24 hours.

Yet there was the new and 23rd head coach of the Mountaineer men’s basketball program making what he described as a halftime adjustment on the floor of the WVU Coliseum during Thursday’s welcoming for the position he recently accepted.

Technical difficulties present throughout the introduction offered by Director of Athletics Wren Baker continued on and forced DeVries to change microphones.

Eventually, the 48-year-old DeVries could be heard loud and clear, and after leaving behind a successful six-season stint at Drake, his focus is squarely on what’s to come.

“Our goal is to make sure every opponent leaves here with some pepperoni rolls and the words to Country Roads echoing in their heads,” DeVries said.

DeVries compiled a 150-55 record in his tenure with the Bulldogs, which included six of Drake’s 20-plus win seasons in program history and three of its seven NCAA Tournament berths, two of which came over the last two seasons.

A key catalyst to the Bulldogs success of late was DeVries’ son, Tucker DeVries, a two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year whose dad announced would be joining the Mountaineer program for his senior season. The 6-foot-7 DeVries has 1,867 points, 250 career three-pointers and an average of 5.6 rebounds throughout three college seasons.

It remains to be seen who else fills out DeVries’ first WVU roster.

“We will look for young men that have talent and intangibles. I’m a firm believer that if you stack talent and intangibles, and put together a group of men like that in a locker room, that equates to winning,” DeVries said. “We’ll have a locker room filled with winners and winners aren’t necessarily just about scoring baskets. They have a discipline, toughness, unselfishness that stands tall in all situations and we will teach them to apply those to all phases of their life.”

DeVries’ only past head coaching experience came at Drake and it followed two decades on staff at Creighton, including 17 seasons as an assistant coach under previous Blue Jays’ head coach Dana Altman or current coach Greg McDermott.

The commitment to his previous positions is something that caught Baker’s attention.

“The most amazing stat on Darian is that in 23 years, he’s been at two places,” said Baker, before adding, “he’s amazingly loyal and showed maturity to not just chase the next job.”

Now comes DeVries’ first opportunity in a Power 5 Conference, and with it comes the responsibility of trying to assemble a coaching staff in the near future.

“As we work through HR [Human Resources] and those type of things, we hope to have a staff in place as soon as possible so we can continue to get on the road during a very important recruiting period,” DeVries said.

DeVries’ five-year contract, which begins with an annual salary of $2.8 million, starts April 1.

He will meet with current members of West Virginia’s team in the near future to begin formulating plans for the Mountaineers’ 2024-25 roster.

“Excited to do that and then obviously, we’ll continue to build to fill some of the needs with the seniors that are leaving the program and anyone else,” DeVries said.

DeVries was considered to have drawn interest from several Power 5 schools during a busy offseason of job openings in college basketball, but Baker says he discovered quickly that Morgantown was his top choice among the destinations.

“He was drawn not just to Mountaineer basketball, but to Morgantown and the state of West Virginia,” Baker said. “He’s done his homework and he knew about the culture here and knew about our values. He made it clear that he didn’t just want a job. He wanted this job and that was backed up by what I was hearing from other people in and around college athletics as he was giving cold shoulders to other schools engaging in him.”

As he works to acclimate himself to new surroundings, DeVries weighed in on what can be expected of his teams as he attempts to translate a successful style within the Missouri Valley Conference over to the Big 12.

“The Big 12 is obviously a very defensive-oriented, physical league,” DeVries said. “The Missouri Valley has a lot of that as well — just a different level of physicality. There’s no question that in order to be successful in the Big 12, you have to defend, rebound and have physicality and toughness. We’ll recruit, coach and teach to that. From a philosophy standpoint, you have to take care of the ball, defensive rebound and guard. Those three things are winning. If you do those three areas well, you have a chance to win every night, so we will try to do that. 

“Once we get the ball, the thing people fear most is our transition game and that has to come off of getting defensive stops. It’s not something we talk about every day, it’s something we do every day. We’re going to practice transition. Our goal is to score in the first 12 seconds of every possession, because if you can score against a broken defense, it gives you a lot better chance.” 

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