Three seasons ago, Anthony Barringer was playing point guard for the Warren Wilson College basketball team that brought a USCAA national championship home to the Swannanoa Valley.
At home on Halloween, the former floor general began the 2015-16 season by leading five of his old teammates - and a recent Owen High School star - against Florida College in a quest to bring another championship to the school.
Barringer joined the coaching staff at Warren Wilson before the 2013-14 season as recruiting coordinator and director of skill development. The Owls posted a 16-13 record. Just a few miles away, Michael Pomeroy scored his 1,000th point for the Owen Warhorses.
Following a first-round exit in last year’s postseason tournament, former Owls head coach William Monts left for an administrative position at Western Kentucky University. Barringer was asked to fill the position on an interim basis.
Barringer, who aspires to be the Owls’ permanent coach, inherited a team with nine returning players, plus Pomeroy, who played sparingly for Montreat College last season before transferring to Warren Wilson in August.
The mix of on-court talent will allow the Owls to play an exciting brand of basketball, Barringer believes.
“You’ll see lots of motion, lots of ball movement, lots of shots and lots of buckets,” he said. “Offensively that’s what it’s going to be. I’d like to see us score in the hundreds every night.”
The scoring attack for the Owls will be led by senior Justin Gonyea, who has contributed more than 1,000 points in his first three seasons on the team.
“He’s one of the most, if not the most, humble guys I’ve ever been around,” Barringer said. “Having him and knowing what he’s capable of in the type of offense that I’m putting around him, I’m expecting a really big year from him.”
Defensively the Owls will deploy a scheme that aims to keep opposing offenses from developing a rhythm.
“We want to create chaos for every opponent that we play against,” Barringer said. “No easy baskets.”
The high-energy style of play employed by Barringer on both sides of the court means the Owls will rely on a 12-man rotation, requiring young players like Pomeroy and former A.C. Reynolds High School star Jaquann Lockhart to contribute.
Pomeroy, who feels re-energized by his transfer to Warren Wilson, said he already feels comfortable in the school’s basketball program.
“Everybody is unselfish here,” he said. “Here it is really like a family. We’re all brothers, and it’s more than just teammates. We all have a great relationship with each other.”
The strong bond among the players, which is nurtured by Barringer and his staff, allows individual players to focus on their own contributions on the court.
“I just want to do everything I can to win and do what’s best for the team,” Pomeroy said. “Whether I need to play hard defense one game or step up my game on the offensive end by scoring, I’m just going to do whatever the team needs me to do.”
Buying into the system is something that Barringer said the Owls do well as a team.
His experience playing alongside players who are now seniors fostered a unique environment for his first season on the bench as the head coach.
“I know that I have earned those guys’ respect, and they have definitely earned mine,” he said. “Whatever I ask them to do, they do it, and the younger players fall in line. They know that I have their back, and they have my back.”
Owls home games
Nov. 5 Montreat College (7:30 p.m.)
Nov. 16 Milligan College (7 p.m.)
Nov. 20 Pfeiffer University (8 p.m.)
Dec. 1 Mars Hill College (8 p.m.)
Dec. 5 Bob Jones University (3 p.m.)
Jan. 21 Piedmont International University 6 p.m.)
Jan. 30 Crown College (3 p.m.)
Feb. 6 Toccoa Falls College (3 p.m.)
Feb. 9 Johnson & Wales University (7:30 p.m.)
Feb. 13 Barber-Scotia College (3 p.m.)
Feb. 18 Columbia International University (7:30 p.m.)