Andy Palmer isn’t coaching much differently this season with a competitive 11-11 squad as he was a year ago when the Indians struggled through a 7-24 campaign.
He identifies the strengths and weaknesses of each team and does his best to look for ways to make that team successful in its own right.
Palmer’s ability to connect with his players and extract the most out of each one of his squads are a big reason he picked up his 400th career win last Friday, during the Indians’ run at the Benton Invitational Tournament.
“It’s a nice accomplishment to get to that number,” said the 51-year-old Palmer, 189-173 in 12 seasons at Carlyle and 401-235 overall in his 22-year career. “Any more it seems like coaches don’t stay in it long enough to reach those kinds of milestones. I’ve been very fortunate to have some good players along the way and good assistant coaches to help me reach that milestone.
“It’s a little surreal and once you’re done and look back, it will probably mean a little bit more.”
Any more it seems like coaches don’t stay in it long enough to reach those kinds of milestones. It’s a little surreal and once you’re done and look back, it will probably mean a little bit more.
Carlyle coach Andy Palmer on getting his 400th career win
Aiding the emotional impact of the milestone victory was the fact that it came against Palmer’s old high school, Mounds Meridian, and at one of his favorite tournaments.
The Indians knocked off Meridian 52-51 at Benton on a late shot by Eli Cox.
“I knew looking at our schedule down there that might be the game it could happen,” Palmer said. “We didn’t play that great and probably didn’t deserve to win that game. We were down 12 in the third quarter and our kids battled back to get the lead. We won it on a hustle play, kind of a scrum under the basket on a missed shot and (Cox) ended up with a loose ball and he scores.
401-235. Andy Palmer’s career record in 22 seasons
“It’s something you’ll remember for sure. To do it against your alma mater, it’s a neat thing and that’s certainly different.”
Palmer has had four 20-win seasons at Carlyle, the smallest school on the large-school Mississippi Division side of the Cahokia Conference. That includes a a 26-10 run during his second season at Carlyle that saw the Indians reach the 2006 Class A state tournament.
He replaced longtime Carlyle coach Brad Weathers, now the head coach of the Nashville Hornets.
He really seems to get the most out of the kids.
Carlyle Athletic Director Darin Smith
The Indians also averaged 22 wins under Palmer from 2010 through 2014.
“We are the smallest school on our side of the conference (enrollment is 340), but we look at it as a challenge to make us better,” Carlyle Athletic Director Darin Smith said. “There’s been some lean years, like last year they were 7-24 and this year they’re right back around the .500 mark. He really seems to get the most out of the kids.”
Smith said Palmer’s ability to adjust and make the most of what he has is what makes him an effective coach and leader.
“I’d say it’s the way he relates to the kids,” Smith said. “He has a really good rapport with them. He’s not an in-your-face type guy, he’s more of a laid-back type person. His kids always play hard.”
Palmer started coaching High at Pope County in Golconda for eight years, then spent two seasons at Ullin Century before coming to Carlyle.
Will he still be coaching for another 99 wins to hit No. 500?
“You hope that you can,” Palmer said. “A lot of that depends on the players you have, on your program, on a lot of things. I know I still enjoy doing what I do.”