A one-time big name in Chicago Public League coaching is taking over a program that was once considered big time.
Anthony Longstreet, who led Crane to prominence in 13 years as head coach at the West Side school, is the new head coach at Manley. He has been out of coaching since the 2007-2008 season.
It's been over 30 years since the program was a power. Behind All-American Russell Cross, Manley reached the Elite Eight in 1979 and won a state championship in 1980. Since then, aside from a brief return of success 10-plus years ago under coach Bo Delaney and star guard Luther Head, Manley has been irrelevant. After going 0-9 in the Red-West last season, Manley will drop into the Public League's Blue Division this winter.
Longstreet has been actively trying to get back into coaching. Controversy, rumors and criticism followed Longstreet during his career at Crane, which prevented him from getting jobs at Kenwood, Julian, Farragut, Robeson and a couple of other city programs over the past four years. But all the allegations throughout his career were never substantiated.
Now Longstreet feels refreshed. More importantly he feels healthy, excited and thankful he has another shot at coaching and is back working with kids.
"I had health issues in the past, but I feel better than I have in 20 years," says Longstreet. "I missed the kids. I missed being around them and seeing how they progress from the time you get them as freshmen to four years later."
When Longstreet took over at Crane in 1995, the Cougars, just like Manley is today, were in the Blue Division of the Chicago Public League. Within three years he won 20 games and rattled off six consecutive 20-plus win seasons.
While coaching stars like Tony Allen, Sherron Collins and Will Bynum at Crane, Longstreet became the school's all-time winningest coach. He compiled a record of 268-100. Behind Collins, a McDonald's All-American who later starred at Kansas, and Tyrone Kent, Longstreet guided Crane to the Elite Eight in Peoria in 2005.
He's well aware of the job ahead of him, though, and believes he can get Manley back into the Red Division and competitive again.
"For me this job is a challenge I want and I'm prepared for," says Longstreet. "I'm a West Sider my whole life. You win with horses. The challenge now is to get those horses."
Before Longstreet gets the horses, he needs games.
"We're looking for games," says Longstreet of Manley's incomplete schedule.
The rebuilding job starts Monday as Manley and every high school basketball team officially begins practice.
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