By Joe Henricksen

This is why you hire Mike Flaherty

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By Joe Henricksen

At a school where football is a behemoth, wrestling is a state giant and baseball has been a power over the past decade, basketball is a distant fourth at Mount Carmel. Well, not anymore. Enter Mike Flaherty.

Mount Carmel, after knocking off St. Ignatius on the road in the regional semifinal, upsetting Farragut in the final and beating Catholic League rival DeLaSalle in the sectional semifinal, will now have a shot at winning its first sectional championship since 1985. The Caravan, who will face Whitney Young Friday night, brought home a state title in 1985 and had a nice run of regional championships in the 1990s, but have been an afterthought since.

Flaherty is without question one of the top handful of coaches in the state of Illinois. It can be argued he's the best. And he's showing everyone why once again. After making a name for himself by leading Mendel Catholic to a storybook second-place finish in 1981, which included the stunning upset of mighty Quincy in the state semifinal game, Flaherty moved on and had a successful run at Thornridge. People don't realize that before Flaherty's arrival in Dolton, the tradition-rich Thornridge program had gone 16-37 the two years prior. Flaherty promptly won a regional title in his first year. He went on to win 12 more regional championships, a pair of sectional titles and a trip to the Elite Eight.

When Mount Carmel needed a coach to raise the level and profile of its basketball program, it couldn't have made a better hire. Flaherty and Mount Carmel were the perfect fit. The veteran coach brought instant stability, credibility and flat-out coaching ability. I have spoken with rival coaches that have gone up against Flaherty over the years, as well as college coaches, and Flaherty has the respect of them all as an individual who looks out for his players and builds character. Flaherty's teams typically overachieve. He did it at Mendel, plenty of times at Thornridge and is at it again on Chicago's South Side. This is a No. 11 seed playing in what is considered one of the strongest sectionals in state history.

This is not a bunch of sorry hoopers -- the Caravan were ranked in the preseason top 15 by the Hoops Report -- but the run they are currently on is pretty impressive no matter the talent level. And this will be far from a one-year hit. But regardless of what happens Friday night against Whitney Young, the Caravan have talented young players who will be around for more and a coach to elevate this program into the statosphere of the school's football, wrestling and baseball programs. Mount Carmel basketball is back and poised to stay among the elite in the near future.

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19 Comments

YES COACH FLAHERTY IS TOP OF THE LINE.
PLEASE GIVE THE PLAYERS A LITTLE CREDIT AS WELL,
MT. CARMEL HAS ONE OF THE BEST FRESHMAN IN THE STATE.
STEVE FILER IS A MAN-CHILD, JUST ASK MIKE DUNNIGAN!
DON'T FORGET THIS SCHOOL PRODUCED ANTOINE WALKER,
AND DONOVAN MCNABB, BOTH PLAYED BASKETBALL, I THINK
WITH FLAHERTY AT THE HELM, MORE QUALITY PLAYERS WILL
GRAVITATE TO THE CARAVAN.

CORRECTIONS MT. CARMEL HAS TWO OF THE BEST FRESHMAN IN THE STATE.

Flaherty is a good coach but he has always had talent to work with. Put him at Argo or Rich East and he is just another HS coach that works hard and loves the game. There are several coaches who are good just like Flaherty but have never had the horses. At Mendal Cathloic he had two STUDS when they beat Quincy. He has sub years when the talent is low. However good luck to Mt. Carmel

MT. CARMEL CONTINUES TO SLAY THE GIANTS!
MIKE FLAHERTY KNEW WHEN HE LEFT T-RIDGE AND ACCEPTED
THIS POSITION, THAT HE HAD A GOLDMINE ON 64TH AND
DANTE.
HE KNEW IF THE KIDS BOUGHT INTO HIS SUCCESSFUL SYSTEM
THE CARAVAN WOULD BE VERY COMPETITIVE.
I TRY TO CONVEY THIS TO OTHER COACHES, IF YOU BELIEVE
IN WHAT YOU'RE ATTEMPTING TO DO, IT WILL RUB OFF ON
THE PLAYERS.
THE BOTTOM LINE IF MT. CARMEL HAS A WINNING FOOTBALL
PROGRAM, A SUCCESSFUL HOCKEY PROGRAM, WRESTLING,ETC..
WHY NOT WITH A GREAT COACH COULDN'T THE BASKETBALL
TEAM, DO THE SAME THING!
WELL YOU CAN'T CALL MT. CARMEL CINDERELLA ANYMORE,
OR LUCKY, OR BECAUSE IT'S GETTING CLOSE TO
ST. PATRICK'S DAY, BOTTOM LINE- GREAT COACH, GREAT
PLAYERS, GREAT TRADITION- WINNERS- WINNERS-WINNERS,
SEE YOU GUYS IN PEORIA!

Coach Flaherty has proved over the years that he is an outstanding coach. I played for Coach Flaherty in the 70's at Mendel and he took a raw athletic kid (me) and turned him into a Division 1 scholarship athlete. Coach has proven time and time again that regardless of the players that he has, they always do a good job.

Ray Collins

Coach Flaherty made his 'bones' at Mendel. Yes he had Mike Hampton and Andre Banks who led a great supporting team with great supporting players like Saterial Harris.
Mendel won the Freshman Catholic League Championship when Banks and Hampton were freshman in 1979 so the seeds were set because Mike Mandarino, Mendel Class of 1970 coached Banks, Hampton and others to get them ready for what they did in 1982. There was never a lack of talent at Mendel, in any year of Mendel basketball. what Mendel experienced was "white flight" out of Roseland in the mid-70's because white parents didn't want their kids going to school with black kids. Mendel still holds the distinction as the first catholic league basketball program to get to the state championship game in 1982 long before any other catholic league school. If Mendel was around today, there would be no need for a Mt. Carmel or DeLasalle.

What Mike Flaherty brings to Basketball at Mt. Carmel is the same thing he has brought at every stop since his first head coaching job at Mendel in the fall of 1975. He brings a passion that he shares with young student athletes that is shown in his relationship that he is able to build and maintain. He has an ability to get character to be paramount in his scheme and gets the student athletes to buy into the concept. I was a part of that first team that went 5-18 our first year and then 17-7 a year later. I am proud to call Mike Flaherty my friend to this day. That is what makes him a great coach because he is a great person and those are the kind of players(Character) that he attracts and gets the most out of. Ben McCall

Mike is a great man! Even though I never played for him at Mendel (Class of '78) his strong leadership skills were on display, and admired by all of us guys! He was a great mentor and roll model for us Mendel men! Congrats Mike Flaherty on a job well done!

I played 3 years (75-78)at Mendel for Coach Flaherty, we were 10-3 in the Catholic League and 23-5 overall. We could've easily been 13-0 but he had to discipline us due to violating team rules. He taught us that what you are as a person is far more important that what you are as a basketball player. That's what really makes him a great coach, he's more concerned about developing you into being a MAN than merely winning games. Mt. Carmel has a great MAN leading their basketball team back to prominence!!!!

IT'S GOOD TO HEAR FROM YOU MENDEL GUYS, MY COUSIN'S
ATTENDED MENDEL, AND SOME OF MY SUMMER LEAGUE BASEBALL
BUDDIES.
NOW GO OUT AND SUPPORT MIKE FLAHERTY LIKE I KNOW MOST
OF YOU WILL DO.
I ALSO KNOW MIKE FLAHERTY'S SON, HE'S A CLASS-ACT
LIKE HIS FATHER.
DON'T YOU MEN AGREE, THAT MIKE FLAHERY BRINGS THAT
REAL CATHOLIC FLAVOR BACK TO THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE.
WHAT HE HAS DONE WITH STEVE FILER IS REALLY REMARKABLE,
NOTRE DAME IS GETTING A STUD ATHLETE!
IF YOU GUYS HAVE ON DEMAND WITH COMCAST, TAPE OF
THE DE LASALLE GAME IS ON THERE.
GO CARAVAN!

Phil Smith Jr, I agree with you, Coach Flaherty and his son are class acts!!!! Coach will always do a good job as long as the players want to learn and put in the effort in the classroom and on the court.

Coach Flaherty has proven his worth over the years. As a member of the 83-83 Monarchs with a 23-6 record we competed against the Ben Wilson led Simeon team, Ken Redfield Weber team, and Sonny Roberts Rockford team. Being a high school varsity coach, I have never admired a coach more than Coach "flats". The Caravan hit a Grand Slam, even though it hurts me as a Mendel Alum. Enjoy the blessing. Everyone involved with Coach Flats will be better people because of the relationship...

Bret D. Shepherd General Dynamics, Naples Italy

Coach Flaherty has always had an important influence on my life both on and off the court. I played for him at T-Ridge during the 99-00 season and in that short period of time i learned to love and appreciate the game of basketball not only from him but the group of assistance that he had on his staff. I always felt that he wanted the best for the team as a whole and as individuals. He brought out the best in players with both athletics and academics. I greatly appreciate what he did for our community while he was at Thornrdige high school. He was and still is able to get the most out of his players which is a sign for great coaching which i would have to say he is.

I never played ball for Mendel but I saw the difference that Mike Flaherty made in my friends on the squad and how he turned Mendel into believers. He made my friends MEN as Jamie Mayes would say not mice!! What he did with the 1978 team was fabulous and had it not be for Raymond McCoy and Bloom the state title would have been ours. I teach at Hales and I dread playing Mt. Carmel knowing that Mike Flaherty is coaching.

He was good coach, I can agree with that. But his style of coaching limited alot players from going to play Division I. Throughout my time at Thornridge he seem like he always pushed players to go to Division II schools or community colleges. Thornridge had plenty of talent from 1998-2006 that I can remember. However their basketball future went no where after High school. Some was because of grades others was because of jst following his guidance. I 've seen quite few players that road the bench go on to play Division 1 basketball and they clearly were not better than the starters.

Mike Flaherty was always a good coach. I only played two years 76-77, because of grades, but I will never forget the things he taught me during Summer Camp before my Freshmen year. Great job Coach Flaherty from Michael Julian.

coach flaherty is the first man to hold me accountable for my actions. He told me to work on my grades,character,dribbling and overall skills. Like the big baby that I was I heard but was too lazy to mesh action with potential. Last but most importantly I respect coach flaherty because I believe he truly cared about the men he helped to raise. I choose to admire his positive attributes and was honored to have been under his guidence. respectfully Michael Hampton

As a freshman I wanted to play basketball and wrestle at Mendel. Coach Flaherty said "NO" you cann't do both. It turns out I choose right, wrestling. Mike was also my history teacher at Mendel. Mike is a man of integrity where ever he coaches. As a student, I was glad that he was our coach at Mendel,he gave us alot to cheer for, as a man, I'm proud to call Mike a friend. Although , I never played for Coach flaherty, I was a witness to his outstanding coaching ability, integrity, and his love for teaching young men the game of basketball. He appears to get the most out of his players because he gives much of himself to the players, the Team, and the School he coaches. I saw Mike and his family at the closing of the old Mendel Gym. I told his wife that MIKe cann't retire because he's too good of a Coach, Teacher, and Mentor. OUTSTANDING JOB MIKE ! FROM JINKS

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on March 6, 2008 8:36 PM.

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