The Bob Hoffman era of Mercer basketball officially began on March 27, 2008, thus beginning the most successful period in program history.
The reigning Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year has amassed more wins (99) in his five seasons with the Bears than has previously been achieved during any five-year span in program history. Hoffman’s most recent campaign saw the 2012-13 Bears capture the team’s first outright conference regular season championship and make the program’s first appearance in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).
No stranger to the big stage, Hoffman lifted the Bears to a 75-67 NIT win at Tennessee, marking the team’s 24th victory of the year and Hoffman’s 499th as a collegiate head coach. When the season concluded five days later, Hoffman had closed the books on the school’s first back-to-back 20-win seasons in over 100 years of basketball.
Mercer’s win over Tennessee underscored the coach’s penchant for big game victories. Earlier in the season, the Bears had captured road wins at Alabama and Florida State – adding the Crimson Tide and Seminoles to the ranks of five BCS teams conquered on their home floor by invading Hoffman squads.
The 2011-12 season saw Mercer smash a bevy of longstanding school records, including most wins in a season (27) and points scored (2,589) in the midst of an unprecedented postseason run. When the dust cleared, Hoffman’s squad stood alone as winners of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, with possession of the first postseason tournament trophy in the history of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
In the two-year stretch from 2011-13, Hoffman has guided Mercer to a 51-23 record, including 34-11 ledger after the New Year and a dominating 30-11 mark against league opponents.
A native of Oklahoma City, Okla., Hoffman has been successful at all levels, boasting a proven track record from high school through the professional ranks. His overall record as a head coach at the collegiate level is 475-231.
The 2010-11 Bears reached the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament for a third-consecutive year and produced many memorable moments along the way. The team went 15-18 overall and11-9 in A-Sun play, earning the No. 5 seed in the league playoff despite losing two key seniors mid-season. Mercer advanced to the semifinals before being knocked out by eventual champion Belmont in a nail biter. Senior Brian Mills was named first team All-A-Sun, while point guard Langston Hall was named to the All-Freshman squad.
Hoffman's 2009-10 team advanced to the title game of the Atlantic Sun Conference championships after downing Belmont and Jacksonville in the quarter and semifinal rounds. That year, Mercer garnered two All-A-Sun and two All-Region honors, while also having senior Daniel Emerson honored as the state of Georgia men's college basketball "Player of the Year" by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Additionally, senior James Florence became the Bears' all-time leading scorer midway through the season. The team finished 16-17 overall and was 10-10 in the A-Sun.
He guided the 2008-09 Bears to a 17-15 overall record and 11-9 in Atlantic Sun Conference (A-Sun) play. It was the Bears' most wins since the 2002-03 season and their first winning mark in conference play since 2004-05.
Hoffman came to the Bears after serving as head coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, a NBA Developmental League franchise, and guided the American Basketball Association's Arkansas Aeros to a 25-2 record in 2006-07. The Aeros led the league in scoring, averaging 133 points per game in Hoffman's up-tempo style of basketball.
"Bob Hoffman was the first person we interviewed for our coaching position and he remained on the radar throughout the process," Pope said. "In the end, we felt he was the right fit. We feel that his experience and success at all levels, including high school, NAIA, NCAA D-I and professional basketball, made him the ideal choice to lead our program to prominence."
Prior to coaching the Aeros, Hoffman served for two years as an assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma, where the Sooners recruited a class ranked in the top five nationally. Hoffman helped guide the Sooners to the first Big 12 championship in school history en route to a two-year record of 45-17 and back-to-back NCAA appearances in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
He brings a wealth of additional experience to the position, having served as head coach at the University of Texas Pan American from 1999-2004, compiling a 69-76 record at the NCAA Division I school. The highlight of Hoffman's stint with the Broncs was a 21-9 record during the 2001-02 season.
Hoffman guided UTPA to 12 wins in his first season, which was more than the previous three seasons combined, and posted the school's best record since the 1993-94 campaign. In 2001-2002, Texas Pan-Am had its first winning season since 1993-94, earned their first tournament victory since 1989-90, and recorded the most home wins in eight seasons. The Broncs were rated for the first time ever in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll and Hoffman earned National Independent Coach of the Year honors by CollegeInsider.com.
"I am very excited about the potential at Mercer," Hoffman said. "I was overwhelmed by the prospects we saw when we visited the campus. I could tell that the Mercer administration is committed to developing a highly successful men's basketball program."
Challenges are nothing new to him as he turned programs around at Southern Nazarene and Oklahoma Baptist. As the head women's basketball coach at Southern Nazarene, Hoffman took a team that had never posted a winning season and won the 1989 NAIA National Championship in just his second season with the team. In three seasons at the helm of the Crimson Storm, he compiled an 88-16 record and was named Sooner Athletic Conference, District 9 and NAIA Coach of the Year.
Building on his success at Southern Nazarene, Hoffman took the reins of the men's program at his alma mater, Oklahoma Baptist, in 1990 and three seasons later guided the Bison to a 34-4 record and berth in the NAIA national championship game. Hoffman was named National Coach of the Year by Basketball Times and also earned Sooner Athletic Conference and District 9 Coach of the Year honors for his efforts. He went on to a record of 243-78 and a winning percentage of .757 in nine seasons at OBU, earning six trips to the NAIA Tournament and making two trips to the championship contest.
He coached 10 All-Americans and 21 All-Conference selections during his tenure with the Bison. Hoffman was named Sooner Athletic Conference Coach of the Year four times. During his nine years at OBU, Hoffman's teams averaged more than 90 points per game and led the NAIA in field goal percentage seven times. His commitment to academics is just as strong, boasting a player graduation rate of 82 percent.
A standout guard and forward and a 1979 graduate of Oklahoma Baptist, Hoffman is one of just 30 players to score at least 1,000 points in his OBU career.
Hoffman has been married for 30 years to the former Kelli Lumry. The couple has a teenage son, Grant.
The Hoffman Era
2012-13: 24-12 (14-4 A-Sun)
2011-12: 27-11 (13-5 A-Sun)
2010-11: 15-18 (11-9 A-Sun)
2009-10: 16-17 (10-10 A-Sun)
2008-09: 17-15 (11-9 A-Sun)
Overall: 99-73 (59-37 A-Sun)
Mercer 75, Tennessee 67 – March 20, 2013 – NIT First Round
Mercer 72, USC Upstate 64 – March 8, 2013 – A-Sun Semifinal
Mercer 82, Lipscomb 48 – March 6, 2013 – A-Sun Quarterfinal
Mercer 70, Utah State 67 – March 28, 2012 – CIT Championship
Mercer 64, Fairfield 59 – March 24, 2012 – CIT Semifinal
Mercer 79, Old Dominion 73 – March 21, 2012 – CIT Quarterfinal
Mercer 64, Georgia State 59 – March 17, 2012 – CIT Second Round
Mercer 68, Tennessee State 60 – March 13, 2012 – CIT First Round
Mercer 61, Lipscomb 53 – February 29, 2012 – A-Sun Quarterfinal
Mercer 73, Lipscomb 63 – March 3, 2011 - A-Sun Quarterfinal
Mercer 66, Jacksonville 63 – March 5, 2010 – A-Sun Semifinal
Mercer 87, Belmont 81 – March 4, 2010 – A-Sun Quarterfinal
Power Conference Wins
Mercer 75, Tennessee 67 – March 20, 2013 – Knoxville, Tennessee
Mercer 66, Alabama 59 – December 22, 2012 – Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Mercer 61, Florida State 56 – December 2, 2012 – Tallahassee, Florida
Mercer 65, Georgia Tech 59 – December 22, 2010 – Atlanta, Georgia
Mercer 78, Auburn 74 – November 19, 2008 – Auburn, Alabama
Mercer 72, Alabama 69 – November 16, 2008 – Tuscaloosa, Alabama
2012-13: Travis Smith (2nd Team), Langston Hall (2nd Team)
2011-12: Langston Hall (1st Team)
2010-11: Brian Mills (1st Team), Langston Hall (All-Freshman Team)
2009-10: Daniel Emerson (1st Team), James Florence (2nd Team)
2008-09: James Florence (1st Team), Daniel Emerson (2nd Team)
Academic All-Conference Selections
2012-13: Jakob Gollon