Julian McElroy said he isn’t concerned about the long-term head coaching situation of the DeKalb boys basketball team.
What the interim head coach is concerned about, he said, was making sure the Barbs had a successful summer season.
McElroy said the Barbs won about 75% of their games this summer – including a 14-1 showing at the Geneva Summer League and a second-place finish to close the season at a tournament in Rockford.
“The kids were ready to compete and leave it all on the floor,” McElroy said. “It was a younger team last year, and now they are a little over. With having at least nine seniors, they know what it takes by this point. And we still surprised some people with our style of play. They still don’t know much about us.”
With the summer season officially over, McElroy and the team awaits an announcement of a new coach after Al Biancalana resigned in May, ending his five-year tenure with the school.
McElroy said he’s not concerned about whether he gets the job.
“A lot of people have their eye on it only because they obviously want to know who the coach is going to be,” McElroy said. “It’s something we’re all working through; I would say that for me and the kids. I got into coaching because I think it’s a great platform to help kids transition into being adults. To help that transition be smooth, and turn these boys into young men, is what matters most.”
The Barbs not only will have a new head coach next year, but also a new conference, as they are set to join the DuPage Valley Conference. McElroy said the Geneva league was a good measuring stick, with the level of competition the same as the DVC.
“It’s a good league for us,” McElroy said. “It’s always a good time. They get schools from as far out as Sterling, plus local schools like us, Sycamore, Geneva. And there’s schools like Naperville and Waubonsie and others that are going to be in our conference this upcoming season, so we get to see the level we’re going to be playing against.”
The summer wrapped up in Rockford with the Barbs taking second to Hughes, a public school out of Cincinnati. DeKalb had only five players on its roster for that game.
“There were injuries, vacation, someone was at a wedding,” McElroy said. “We lost by one and still competed so hard. I’m proud that we were able to just go out there and fight. It showed how strong we can be for the 2019-20 basketball season.”
He said the team’s last two tournaments – the Barbs were 2-2 against all private schools at Riverside-Brookfield – were good exposure, as well, as both came during open periods in the college season. Both tournaments had multiple college coaches in attendance.
So with on-the-court games concluded, all that remains is figuring out who the Barbs’ head coach next season will be.
“I don’t coach basketball to be that guy,” McElroy said. “I coach it to coach young men and help them. It makes it easier for me to keep pushing forward by worrying only about the moment. I’m not going to worry about November in June. I’m just going to get these kids prepared for the next game. It’s been a great time and a great experience. I love these kids, I love the families, I love this community and the support I’ve gotten. It’s been a great time, and I have no regrets.
“It will figure itself out,” he said, “but as far as this summer, everything was great.”