FAIRBURY, NE — There’s a new face in charge of the Fairbury boys basketball program.

Ryan Garver is new to the Jeffs and new to being a head coach. He says he’s feeling things out with his new team.

“We’re seeing what works, what doesn’t and just kind of how these guys react, how these guys respond to our criticism, how they take coaching and that kind of stuff," Garver said. "The whole year is going to be working things out.”

While he’s new to being in charge, Garver brings an impressive resume from his playing days. He was all-city at Lincoln Northeast before heading to Nebraska Wesleyan, where he won the 2018 national championship, became a first-team All-American and set school records for shooting and steals.

He says he still finds a way to slip into some team drills.

“It is hard not to be out there playing," Garver said. "Every time I want to just go out there and play with them and do every drill with them. But I know I have to step back and coach them, tell them what I’m seeing and what I would have done in those situations.”

Senior Ethan Smith is the top returner from last year’s 11-12 team. He says Garver brings energy to practice.

“Coming right out of college, he knows what he’s doing and he’s given us a lot of new drills that are really fun," Smith said. "Sometimes he plays with us and he’s obviously pretty good, so it’s fun to play against competition like that.”

Smith averaged 13.4 points per game as a junior and made 35 percent of his threes. He says the team’s biggest improvement has been in shooting. 

“Everybody can shoot on the team, so that helps," Smith said. "We can spread the floor a lot better than we have in recent years. That will just change how we play a lot.”

Just like his Nebraska Wesleyan teams, Garver expects the Jeffs will be getting up plenty of shots.

“We had a saying, shoot it before you turn it over," Garver said. "We want to get the ball up, get up a lot of shots, we want to rebound a lot. Just kind of take control of the game and try to win games with pace.”

Fairbury starts its season Saturday against Fillmore Central.

You can listen to these Fairbury games on Ol' Red 99-5: Saturday 12/11 Fairbury at Thayer Central... Friday 12/17 Fairbury at Crete