By Dean Backes
Taking over a basketball program coming off a state championship can produce unrealistic expectations for the new head coach.
All of the expectations that come with winning a state title don’t change with the coaching transition. In fact, there is added pressure. Every decision made by the new coach is compared to the tendencies of the former coach.
Kevin Roberts will face some of that scrutiny next season as he wades his way through the trials and tribulations of his first head coaching season at 2008 Missouri Class 4 champion Notre Dame (Cape Girardeau). Roberts replaces four-year head coach Paul Hale who stepped down earlier this week.
Hale won 573 games during a 30-year career that began at Dexter High School and resumed at Notre Dame in 2004 after he retired from teaching at Dexter. During his four years with the Bulldogs, Hale led Notre Dame to an 84-72 loss to eventual state champion O’Hara in the 2005 Missouri Class 4 semifinals, and to the title game the past two seasons. Last season Notre Dame lost 59-56 to Ruskin in the championship game before surprising season-long top-ranked St. Charles West 48-36 in this year’s title game.
Since Roberts begins his high school coaching career in Cape Girardeau, the 25-year old hasn’t developed his style of coaching, yet. That fact leads those close to the Bulldog program to believe that wholesale changes are not expected. Roberts agrees.
“I didn’t really have a style until I came here,” Roberts told the Southeast Missourian. “[Hale] is the only coach I’ve coached under, so his style is my style.”
Although Roberts will be without the services of Mark Himmelberg, Ryan Willen and Ty Williams next season, he will have Austin Greer and John Unterreiner at his disposal. Greer chalked up 346 points (13.8 points per game) this past season and grabbed nearly five rebounds a contest. Unterreiner chipped in 7.2 points and 4.5 assists per game.
Hale finishes his coaching career on a high note. In fact, his favorite memory occurred just last weekend when the Bulldogs won the first state title for Hale at the end of his 30th and final season.
“Winning it this year, you couldn’t have scripted anything any better,” Hale told the Missourian. “That’s something special.”
Daniel Resigns at Saxony
Hoping to spend more time with his wife and six children, John Daniel has decided to submit his resignation as head coach at Saxony high School.
Daniel began his career as an assistant coach at Southeast Missouri State. He also coached at Washington University and Notre Dame Regional High School before taking over as head coach at Saxony six years ago. The Crusaders won at least 20 games in each of the last three seasons.
Saxony won its first district title earlier this year with a 66-52 win over Puxico under the guidance of Daniel. His final season with the Crusaders ended with a 46-41 loss to New Haven at sectionals.
Daniel also served as Saxony’s enrollment director and athletic director.
Armstrong Steps Down as Wildcat Coach
Before making a final decision on the future of his coaching career, Blue Springs girls basketball coach Tony Armstrong made a checklist to help him in his decision. The results of that list made his decision a no-brainer.
“I made a list, why I should stay and why I should leave,” Armstrong told the Independence Examiner. “I had two items on the why I should stay list: One, I love the girls; and two, they are going to be really, really good next year. I had two pages on the why I should leave list, which made it a pretty easy decision.”
Next season, just two players will be missing from this year’s 25-3 squad that went 24-0 against Suburban Big Seven competition over the past two seasons. The Wildcats went 45-8 during that same time span overall.
The transition to the new coaching staff should be a smooth operation with the likes of Drew Roberts, Bryonna Snow, Cee Cee Burris, Mackenzie Sykes, Jamesia Price and Jocelyn Price returning.
The Wildcats lost twice this season to Hickman Mills, who finished fourth in the Missouri girls Class 5 state tournament. Blue Springs’ third loss in a 25-3 campaign was to Class 4 champion Bolivar.
Missouri Boys Basketball Rankings
1. Webster Groves (29-3)
2. McCluer North (25-5)
3. Raytown (27-1)
4. Kickapoo (23-4)
5. Truman (20-10)
6. Fort Zumwalt South (27-4)
7. Gateway Tech (24-5)
8. Waynesville (22-7)
9. Parkway South (27-3)
10. Lee’s Summit West (18-7)
1. Notre Dame (Cape Girardeau) (24-6)
2. St. Charles West (29-2)
3. Webb City (25-5)
4. Branson (23-5)
5. McCluer South-Berkeley (25-5)
6. Lincoln Prep (21-10)
7. Sikeston (22-3)
8. Carl Junction (18-5)
9. St. Francis Borgia (21-6)
10. Clinton (24-5)
Missouri Girls Basketball Rankings
1. Rock Bridge (25-6)
2. St. Joseph’s Academy (26-5)
3. Incarnate Word Academy (29-4)
4. Hickman Mills (29-2)
5. Blue Springs (25-3)
6. Kickapoo (19-5)
7. Hickman (20-7)
8. Waynesville (20-6)
9. Ozark (22-6)
10. Lee’s Summit (18-11)
1. Bolivar (29-2)
2. Notre Dame de Sion (22-9)
3. Marshfield (24-1)
4. McCluer South Berkeley (27-4)
5. Notre Dame (St.L) (21-9)
6. St. Dominic (25-2)
7. Platte County (25-4)
8. Republic (17-8)
9. Webb City (18-9)
10. Branson (19-9)