By Joe Henricksen
When the official start of the 2011-2012 season begins with the first practice in three weeks--and games tipping off the week of Thanksgiving--there will be new looks to several basketball programs throughout the Chicago area.
Among those job openings this past offseason, there were a few high-profile openings with some big names filling them, including Tom Cappel at Crete-Monee, Chris Head at Crane and Donnie Boyce at Proviso East (for a blog on the fortunes of those three coaches go to the "Big jobs, big names" blog).
Today, the City/Suburban Hoops Report takes a look at many of the coaching changes in the Chicago area as we quickly approach the 2011-2012 season.
St. Charles East
Former Coach: Brian Clodi
New Coach: Pat Woods
The controversial removal of Clodi as head coach is in the rearview mirror as Woods takes over a program that features one of the premier players in the state--Purdue recruit Kendall Stephens. The 6-4 junior guard is the cornerstone of a program that hopes to challenge Elgin and St. Charles North in the Upstate Eight River. Woods was most recently the athletic director at Ridgewood, but he spent nine years as head coach before taking over the athletic department. His 97-148 career record is misleading as he took over a woeful Ridgewood program in 2001. He built the program to respectability by the time he stepped down in 2010, including a 17-11 season in 2007-2008.
Former Coach: Terrone Parham
New Coach: Bobby Smith
Smith becomes the fourth different head coach at Rich Central in the last nine years, following Glenn Heffernan, Mike Curta and Parham, who has been the head coach the past three seasons and finished 11-14 a year ago. The Rich Central basketball program enjoyed its greatest success in the mid-1980s. The Olympians hope a key figure from those glory days can restore a program that hasn't had a whole lot of success of late. Smith was a star at Rich Central, helping a Kendall Gill-led Rich Central team to a 31-2 record and second-place finish in state his junior year.
Former Coach: Dominic Cannon
New Coach: Tom Kleinschmidt
Under Cannon, an interim coach who took over for former York and current UIC assistant coach Al Biancalana, the Dukes won 20 games and finished second in the West Suburban Silver last season. Now Kleinschmidt, a huge name in Illinois prep basketball and a former star at DePaul, takes over the program. Kleinschmidt, who was a McDonald's All-American as a prep player at Gordon Tech, is familiar with the York program after serving as an assistant last year. He has a building block in junior guard David Cohn, one of the top 25 prospects in the Class of 2013 in Illinois.
Former Coach: Bill Wandro
New Coach: Luke Yanule
While Hoffman Estates has struggled of late (6-20 a year ago), Wandro built the program into one of the most successful in the Mid-Suburban League in his 20 years before retiring. He won 337 games, eight regional titles and took two teams to the Elite Eight. Yanule has been an assistant coach at both Niles Notre Dame and Schaumburg, where he's been since 2007, coaching under successful Bob Williams (now at Niles West) and Matt Walsh.
Former Coach: Joe Majkowski
New Coach: Mike Howland
After 24 years of Majkowski in charge of the basketball program at the private school in Arlington Heights, St. Viator kept it in the family with the hiring of Howland. The former star player at St. Viator, who led the program to its only conference title in 1997 as a junior, has served the past eight years as an assistant. He's well versed in all things St. Viator, which finished 14-13 a year ago, and was a part of the program's biggest success--the 24-win, supersectional season in 2010. Howland will welcome back some experience, including point guard D.J. Morris and shooting guard Kevin Walsh.
Former Coach: Mike Healy
New Coach: Robert Szorc
Healy stepped down as head coach to concentrate solely on his athletic director duties. Szorc, a west suburban native originally from West Chicago and who attended Benet Academy, led Rock Island Alleman to back-to-back regional titles the past two seasons. He won't have it easy, however, coaching at a football factory and losing all five starters from last year's team.
Wheaton St. Francis
Former Coach: Shawn Healy
New Coach: Bob Ward
A blast from the past in Wheaton as Ward, who served as head coach at Wheaton North for seven seasons, takes over for Healy. Ward has 17 years of head coaching experience, including stints at Spring Valley Hall, Round Lake and Wheaton North. He has compiled a 250-225 record in those 17 years but hasn't been a head coach since resigning at Wheaton North in 2000. Ward and St. Francis will welcome back the return of talented and versatile Ryan Coyle.
Former Coach: Bret Just
New Coach: J.J. Pearl
All Just did the past two seasons was lead Deerfield basketball to a 44-15 record and a pair of regional championships. Just, however, has moved on to the sports agency world, working with CAA Sports Agency, and Pearl, a longtime high school assistant coach, moves into his first head job. Pearl spent nine seasons as an assistant at Stevenson and the past two as an assistant for Just at Deerfield. The Warriors return just one starter, senior Mack Watts, from last season's overachieving 20-win, regional title team.
Former Coach: Brian Murphy
New Coach: Fil Torres
While Murphy led Lincoln Park to 34 wins in two seasons and a share of the Red-North title a year ago, he stepped down this offseason after taking over for Tom Livatino in 2009. Torres has spent the past two years at Chicago Talent Development School. He prepped and starred at Naperville North a decade ago, leading the Huskies to a sectional title his junior year and 22 wins his senior year. He then made the Arizona team as a walk-on and played three seasons for coach Lute Olson.
Former Coach: Scott Atkins
New Coach: Jason Rhodes
In the past two seasons, Atkins guided Oak Lawn to records of 14-13 and 15-12. No big deal? Those were the first winning seasons at Oak Lawn in 24 years. Now that Atkins has brought Oak Lawn basketball back to respectability and the lower levels have been competitive, Rhodes takes over. He spent nine seasons coaching at Kenwood Academy in Chicago, including two years as the head coach. He led Kenwood to a regional title in 2008.
Former Coach: Matt Meany
New Coach: Brian Flaherty
Flaherty returns to the job he held just two years ago. The son of highly successful prep coach Mike Flaherty, Brian Flaherty was the head coach at Bremen for four seasons before stepping down following the 2009-2010 season. His assistant and friend, Matt Meany, took over for one season while Flaherty attended to a family medical issue at home. Then Meany volunteered to step down as head coach so Flaherty could return to his original job. The Braves went just 6-20 a year ago, but the coaching tandem that led Bremen to a 18-11 season in 2009-2010 is back.
Former Coach: Brian Scaduto
New Coach: Pat Flannigan
Scaduto resigned from coaching boys basketball and took over the Evergreen Park girls basketball job after compiling a 165-226 record in 14 seasons as the boys head coach. Flannigan has been an assistant to Scaduto for the past 11 years.
Former Coach: Jerry Farber
New Coach: Dan McGuire
McGuire takes over for Farber, who retired from teaching and coaching after leading the Yorkville program for the past 12 seasons as head coach. McGuire has served as Farber's varsity assistant for the past four years.