By Joe Henricksen
Although there were few big-named coaching jobs open this offseason, there was perhaps as much turnover and movement in the high school coaching ranks as we’ve seen in quite some time. There were more than two dozen coaching changes in the Chicago area alone.
The biggest name that moved was Bob Williams, who built a power at Schaumburg and is now the head coach at a struggling Niles West program. Williams spent 18 years at Schaumburg. In the last 16 years his teams averaged 20 wins a season, won nine regional titles and went to the Elite Eight in Peoria three times, winning a state title in 2001.
The City/Suburban Hoops Report takes a look at many of the coaching changes throughout the Chicago area.
Previous Coach: Bryan Tucker
New Coach: Tom Livatino
Comment: Livatino steps in after having success at Lincoln Park, where he never won fewer than 18 games and went 100-41 in five years. There is young talent within the program, including talented freshman David McCoy. The potential is there to have a private school power on the North Shore.
Previous Coach: Tom Livatino
New Coach: Brian Murphy
Comment: The transition should be minimal as they kept it within the program in hiring Murphy, an assistant in the program under Livatino. The cupboard is not bare, with the return of big man Mike Gabriel and perimeter players Greg Tucker, Demarko Nash, Aric Dickerson and junior Rashad Wahab.
Previous Coach: Marty Dello
New Coach: Bryan Tucker
Comments: After 10-plus years as a head coach at private schools (Loyola Academy and Marian Catholic), Tucker moves to the Mid-Suburban League and public schools at Barrington. The Bronco program, which has struggled the last three years, would love the success Tucker had at Loyola.
Previous Coach: Rob Sarmiento
New Coach: Gary DeCesare
Comment: Although it’s a football and baseball school, DeCesare brings some impressive credentials in helping build the basketball program at the Southwest Side school. Some feel it could be a sleeping giant. DeCesare, who was most recently an assistant coach at DePaul, was one of the most successful high school coaches in the country in his 16 years at St. Raymond’s Catholic in the Bronx. He compiled a 282-141 record and produced 35 Division I players.
Previous Coach: Tom Pallardy
New Coach: Mark Sevedge
Comment: Sevedge takes over a program that Pallardy has run for the last 16 years, which included a 26-win, sectional title season in 2003. Sevedge has been the sophomore coach at St. Laurence for the last five years.
Previous Coach: Glenn Olson
New Coach: Huey Crawford
Comment: This program has been hit hard. In addition to losing its head coach, Glenn Olson, the program lost two very valuable players this offseason as well. Senior Charles McKinney headed to a prep school and 6-6 junior Abdul Nader transferred to Niles North.
Previous Coach: Fritz Wulfram
New Coach: Bob Williams
Comment: Williams brings instant credibility for a program that has won just 25 games in the last four seasons. In the short term Williams will surely make Niles West more competitive; in the long term don’t underestimate what one of the top coaches in the state can get done.
Previous Coach: Bob Williams
New Coach: Matthew Walsh
Comment: A longtime assistant coach at Conant, where he compiled an 82-14 record on the sophomore level over the last four years, Walsh takes over a program that Williams built into a Chicago area power with three trips to Peoria and state title in 2001.
Previous Coach: Bill Pistorius
New Coach: Glenn Olson
Comment: Olson helped revive a downtrodden Maine East program that had not won anything in years, capturing a regional title in 2008 and winning 19 games a year ago.. While the history has been rough at Niles North with only one regional championship and several single-digit win totals, those in the area truly believe this program can be a winner and is an underrated job.
Previous Coach: Mark Lindo
New Coach: Jeff Powers
Comment: Longtime coach Mark Lindo steps down after 18 years and eight regional and two sectional championships. Enter Jeff Powers, who assisted Al Biancalana at York last year after 11 years as head coach at Timothy Christian, where he went 201-110. The Huskies return a ton of size and experience.
Previous Coach: D’Arcy Stanfield
New Coach: Loren Jackson
Comment: Is there any doubt this program will have an influx of talent coming sooner than later? Look for Julian to be a player before long with Jackson back at the school where he once coached. Jackson, who was at Fenger last season, produced some elite talent, including former Julian stars Sean Dockery, Brandon Ewing and Mac Koshwal.
Previous Coach: Larry Hight
New Coach: Deryn Carter
Comment: Hiring the young Carter (29 years old) may be just what the doctor ordered in getting someone with roots to the school and program after having heavy turnover in recent years. Carter, who was a Division II assistant coach for eight years, graduated from Larkin in 1998 and is the school’s fourth all-time leading scorer. The program has had its dips, including a 9-45 mark the last two seasons, but has had success. Coach Dom Cannata won back-to-back sectional titles in the early 1990s and the Larkin won another sectional title in 2005.
Previous Coach: Mike O’Toole
New Coach: Jeremy Izzo
Comment: Since coach Mike Gillespie enjoyed success in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the football powerhouse has never been able to get it going on the hardwood. JCA hopes Izzo can bring some stability. He’s young (28) but learned a thing or two while at the University of Illinois, where he was a student manager for both Lon Kruger and Bill Self and student manager/graduate assistant for Bruce Weber. He does have a player to build around in junior shooter Wes Koral.
Previous Coach: Cray Allen
New Coach: Josh Virostko
Comment: The program has hit some hard times since coach Dan Batka enjoyed success earlier this decade, particularly last season. Allen resigned during the season, interim coach Tom Bergen took over and the team finished 5-23. Although just 31 years old, Virostko has plenty of head coaching experience at Plainfield Central (2 years) and Paris (4 years).
DOWNERS GROVE SOUTH
Previous Coach: Paul Runyon
New Coach: Jay Baum
Comment: Runyon enjoyed success at DGS, which included a three-year run from 2003-2005 with 81 wins, three sectional titles and two trips to the Elite Eight in Peoria. The program stayed within and hired Baum, a fixture within the Mustang basketball program. Baum has coached DGS basketball in some capacity for 23 years.
Previous Coach: Josh Virostko
New Coach: Steve Lamberti
Comment: After just two years Virostko left for Lake Park. The first-year coach inherits arguably the most talented team in the league, with 6-6 Winston Williams and 6-2 junior Derrick Marks.
Previous Coach: Kevin Gimre
New Coach: Kevin Baldus
Comment: After a 22-win regional championship season in 2005, West Chicago has struggled mightily. The program has suffered through a 17-90 record over the last three seasons. Baldus, a 1993 West Chicago graduate, has his first head coaching job after coaching at every other level in stints at both Glenbard West and Willowbrook.
Previous Coach: Ed Lynch
New Coach: Lee Maciejewski
Comment: Lynch handled things well during some turbulent times at the school, going 62-47 and winning two regional titles in four years. While Lynch will remain in the program as a lower level coach, the Red Devils will turn to the veteran Maciejewski, who has had lengthy head coaching stints at both Glenbard West and West Chicago.
Previous Coach: Rob Wostratzky
New Coach: Rick Runaas
Comment: Lemont turns to a veteran coach who has had some success. Runaas compiled a 64-43 record at T.F. North from 1998-2002, including the school’s first regional championship since 1946.
ST. FRANCIS DE DALES
Previous Coach: Jeff Haynes
New Coach: Deon Tolliver
Comment: Has it really been that long since this program won big under coach Mike Kaczmarz in the 1980s and coach Larry Moore in the 1990s? A tough job in a tough league for Tolliver, who takes over a program that hasn’t had much success since 2000.
Previous Coach: Charles Demas
New Coach: Larry Faines
Comment: A third coach in three years is not exactly the way to build a program in the Public League, especially one that many coaches feel is a program with real potential in the city.
Previous Coach: Rich Wolf
New Coach: Scott Luetschwager
Comment: The 29-year-old Luetschwager takes over after Wolf led the program for the last nine years. If anything Wauconda, which finished 3-25 last season, has the tallest coach in the state in the 6-10 Luetschwager, who coached the sophomore team last year.
Previous Coach: Brandon Moody
New Coach: George Montgomery
Comment: The program at 31st and King Drive on Chicago’s South Side may get a wake-up call with new coach George Montgomery. The father of current NBA player JaVale McGee of the Washington Wizards and a former player at the University of Illinois in the 1980s, brings a name, face and presence to the Mightymen program not seen since coach Fate Mickel was on the Dunbar bench.
Previous Coach: Dennis Hansen
New Coach: Brian Johnson
Comment: Johnson, who was an assistant under West Aurora coach Gordie Kerkman and previously worked at Dundee-Crown, takes over a program that features a Division I recruit in 6-9 Dave Dudzinski.
Previous Coach: Marc Davidson
New Coach: Steve Hanson
Comment: Unbelievably, lost an Aurora Christian icon in Davidson due to some funding/seniority issues at the school.
Previous Coach: Chris Payne
New Coach: Brett Porto
Comment: BC lost a good one in Payne. Porto, meanwhile, is the youngest coach in the state. He graduated from college in 2008 and is just 23 years old.
The first issue of the City/Suburban Hoops Report, now in its 15th year of publication, is due out this week. To subscribe or for more information email email@example.com or call (630)-408-6709