By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — Apparently, the Liberty Christian coaching staff is somewhat like a three-headed monster.
No, the players aren't subjected to any beastly treatment from head coach Jason Chappell or assistants Mike Carey and Ryan Jackson.
The comparison comes from the fact that if one head is removed, the other two go along just fine anyway.
This week, as a team prepares for the most important game in school history — a semistate matchup at Lafayette Saturday against Marquette Catholic — Chappell has been felled by strep throat. It kept him away from the team for the first three days of the week, leaving Carey and Jackson in charge of getting the team ready.
"That isn't anything I've worried about at all," said Chappell Thursday about leaving his assistant to run practice. "We are on the same page. Just like the players don't care who scores the most points, the coaches don't care who gets the credit."
Chappell has a nice mix in his two assistants.
Carey is a coaching veteran with a family tradition in the sport, while Jackson is a Liberty graduate who left to get some coaching experience before jumping at the chance to return to the Lions.
Carey is a member of the coaching hall of fame in Colorado. A year ago he turned down a chance to go back there and coach a boys basketball team at a big school becuase, "I believe in what we got going on here," he said.
"My Dad was a basketball coach," said Carey, who originally was hired to be Liberty Christian's girls varsity coach. "When I started he was always there to help me."
He believes that he's seen a change in the mindset of the players at the school in recent years.
"I don't want to point any fingers, but in the past we've had guys who were happy if we lost as long as they got their points," said Carey. "But these players have bought into the idea of defense and to the idea of making a commitment to each other. I think this is God's plan that I be here now."
"I am really fortunate to have Mike with me," said Chappell. "I try to learn as much as I can from him. To me it's like having Phil Jackson sitting on the bench with me. He's been through a lot and he's a great sounding board."
Jackson graduated from Liberty in 2003 and played basketball there.
"I coached the Madison-Grant girls and I worked a year and a half on the staff at Ball State when (Ronny) Thompson coached there," said Jackson. "This is my fifth year back here at Liberty."
"Ryan is all about Liberty Christian basketball," said Chappell. "I was able to coach him in the fourth and fifth grades and was able to coach him to a Christian school state championship."
Jackson is able to take a large share of the duties during the game, at halftime and in preparation for games. "But I am not naive enough to think that I know more than Coach Carey," he was quick to admit.
But the coaching is really a team effort. In three straight time outs during a game, each of the three might get a turn in kneeling in front of the team to make adjustments on the fly.
In the regional title game against Lafayette Central Catholic, a change was made at halftime. "We decided we were going to switch on screens (defensively)," said Jackson. "At the time out, Peyton Quinn said, 'That switch is really working.' So I told them, 'Let's switch every screen.'"
The assistants have had an impact on Chappell.
"I have learned that in the past I was over coaching," said the head coach. "I was talking too much and after a while the players would tune me out. Now the (assistants) do more of the talking than I do. So now when I say something the players feel it must be important."
There's never been a more important game than the one coming up Saturday for the Lions. But there's little doubt that these three heads have the team as prepared for the challenge as possible.
Complete coverage of Liberty Christian at semistate On social media - Follow @THBSports on Twitter for updates, photos, videos and live coverage of Saturday's game In print Saturday: A preview of the semistate matchup with Marquette Catholic Sunday: Complete coverage of Saturday's game At heraldbulletin.com - Photo galleries - Videos - Stories from the Lions' tourney run