DeKALB – With 15 practices in the book, a youth camp earlier this month and about 20 games already played, things have looked pretty close to a normal summer for the DeKalb girls basketball team.
Considering the school hired its new coach, Tyler Bantz, in early June, that makes the normal summer stand out even more.
“It was unfortunate it was so late,” Bantz said. “We had to piece together a lot of the summer camp things, but we have plenty of people out here and at this point we’re just starting at square one, fundamentals. We’re a little bit behind, but I think we’ve had a good summer especially since we didn’t get started to the beginning of June really.”
Bantz is the third coach in as many years for the Barbs, who were 8-22 in coach Heath Kent’s final season (2015-16). Elliot Whitefield went 5-25 last year in his only season.
Bantz said the changing of coaches can have a negative effect on the players.
“They’ve had to learn different offenses, different defenses, different philosophies,” Bantz said. “They have different personalities, different assistant coaches. It’s tough for them because there’s some many different people and maybe they get close to that coach and that person leaves, or whatever the situation may be.”
He said he’s focused on building relationships with each player to help combat that fatigue and show that the staff is committed to the program.
“We’ve had to make sure we built those relationships, show them I’m here for them,” Bantz said. “I understand it’s been multiple coaches in multiple years, and it’s obviously tough. But they’re just here to play basketball. There’s stuff they can’t control. But there’s a coaching staff in place now that’s really passionate. ... In the next three years as we get our system in place, hopefully they’ll see we’re here for them.”
DeKalb athletic director Nic Kearfott said finding stability was a key goal for him and the search committee.
“Our candidate pool was a very strong one, and one thing we strived to accomplish was to get someone inside the building as a teacher,” Kearfott said. “So hopefully we can keep him as a teacher and get some stability into the program. Not just at the high school level, but in the middle school and feeder programs as well. Hopefully that will give us some consistency that will get this program to where it once was, and stable and successful and competitive. His goal is my goal. He shared the same vision of myself and the committee. It stuck out that he was the person to take over the program.”
This is Bantz’s first head coaching gig. He’s coming from Plainfield Central, where he spent four years as an assistant on the boys team, and he was a boys assistant at Yorkville for a year as well.
The season is set to start Nov. 14 with a home game against Rosary. The Barbs are set to bring an experienced roster into the season, with just two seniors on the team last year.
“There’s a lot of returning players who played a lot of minutes,” Bantz said. “That experience will definitely payoff next year. What I’ve seen so far throughout camp is we have to build up a lot of basic skills, fundamentals – shooting, defensive positioning – and just learning how to be basketball players instead of people who play basketball.”
And with something close to a full summer under their belts, Bantz said he’s excited for the Barbs’ upcoming season.
“It was awesome seeing those kids, because that’s where it needs to be built up,” Bantz said. “We played about 20 games in the first two weeks, and that was a good experience for them just to get game time in and for me to see what type of payers we have. They don’t know me, but I don’t know them, either. This has been a big time evaluation of what type of players we have, what type of style we need to play.”