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NCAA Tournament: Working and caring is what made Mercer coach Bob Hoffman successful

COMMENTARY — From Southern Nazarene to Oklahoma Baptist to Mercer, longtime coach has thrived because of his passion.
by Berry Tramel Published: March 22, 2014

“I'm going to give all I got, and that's just how I'm wired and it's important to me to get guys that want to be coached that way because that's what the most important thing that a lot of people don't understand. These guys, even to this point, and no matter what, they wanted to be coached today.”

The Bears did something unusual Saturday during their practice at the PNC Arena. They ran wind sprints, punishment for a few misdeeds against Duke. Strange for a day between sessions of the NCAA Tournament.

“But to me, that's about passion, want to do the best,” Hoffman said. “It's about excellence. How good can you be? Well, you better bring it every day if you're going to be the best.

“We don't take days off. We may not go hard, but we're trying to get better mentally. We're trying to get better physically. Might be getting better spiritually, whatever. We're getting better somehow to be a better man so we can be the best we can be when we step out on that floor.”

That’s the passion Banz has seen all these years, including through his daughter, Michelle, who played a season at Southern Nazarene for Hoffman before he took the OBU job.

“It’s a people business, especially at that level and the higher levels you go,” Banz said. “There are a lot of teams that have a lot of good players. It’s finding the passion button individually and collectively that puts the components of a team together. He’s always had a knack of being able to do that.”

Since beating Duke, Hoffman said he has heard from at least a few players on every team he’s ever coached. Piedmont High School. SNU. OBU. Texas-Pan American. OU, as an assistant under Kelvin Sampson. Minor league teams in Little Rock, Ark., and Hidalgo, Texas.

“When you're as old as me, that's a lot of folks all over the country and all over the world getting messages from all over the place,” Hoffman said. “So that was a blessing. It’s nice to know you have people that care like those folks did.”

No surprise there. Making people care is why Mercer beat Duke.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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