SPRINGDALE (KFSM) - Tommy Deffebaugh may be new to Har-Ber High School, but he's no stranger to Northwest Arkansas. From assisting at Fayetteville to the University of Arkansas to Bentonville, he now faces a new challenge as the head man of the Wildcats.
And he's faced the task head on.
"He's made it a lot better," guard Charlie Bockelman mentioned. "We play a lot harder. We play for him. He's very passionate about the game and he makes us want to play harder for him."
After starting his tenure with a 9-2 record, his first game as a head coach in the 6A-West was against his former team in Bentonville.
"Coming in here and finally having to play against him, the first game was really special, but also it was really tough," Coach Deffebaugh remembered.
He lead the team to a 62-55 win over the Tigers, and now entering the third week of conference play, Har-Ber remains the only undefeated team in the 6A-West.
"We share the ball really well, and it's been a lot better for our team," guard Lawson Jenkins said of the team's success.
What's made the biggest difference isn't what happens offensively, but rather putting the focus on guarding the opponent.
"He really preaches like we're having lockdown defense, our scoring's going to come, but we've got to stop the other team whenever we play against them," Bockelman explained.
"Defensively, it's a team thing," Coach Deffebaugh added. "When we buy into team, and our defense comes first, that's the mentality I've tried to instill in them."
The team has bought into his philosophies and it's showed with the Wildcats riding an eight game win streak.
Now with a target on their backs, the squad will continue to show its grit on the court.
"I don't think it's any pressure," Jenkins said. "We're Har-Ber. We always get everybody's best game. We're just going to keep playing with that chip on our shoulder and keep going out and beating teams."
A new head man doesn't always a big learning curve - and now Coach Deffebaugh is fighting to make his first year as a head coach one to remember.
Har-Ber's next test comes Tuesday with an away game at Van Buren. Tipoff is set for 7:30 PM.