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Season of change in prep coaching ranks

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.

LOYOLA ACADEMY

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.

LINCOLN PARK

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.

BARRINGTON

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.

ST. RITA

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.

ST. LAURENCE

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.

MAINE EAST

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.

NILES WEST

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.

SCHAUMBURG

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.

NILES NORTH

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.

NAPERVILLE NORTH

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.

JULIAN

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.

LARKIN

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.

JOLIET CATHOLIC

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.

LAKE PARK

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.

PLAINFIELD CENTRAL

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.

WEST CHICAGO

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.

HINSDALE CENTRAL

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.

LEMONT

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.

PAYTON

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.

WAUCONDA

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.

DUNBAR

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.

KANELAND

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.

AURORA CHRISTIAN

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.

BURLINGTON CENTRAL

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 hoopsreport@yahoo.com or call (630)-408-6709