Girls cagers prove Civic Memorial coach wrong and right at same time
Jonathan Denney wasn't sure he would be a good match for coaching girls basketball — but that was more than a decade ago, so he must have gotten the hang of it.
Denney, who described his coaching style as “pretty intense, pretty tough,” had been used to boys basketball, from playing it at the high school and collegiate levels to being an assistant coach.
But since taking over the Civic Memorial High School girls hoops program and turning it into a victory machine, Denney has come to embrace and enjoy it the girls game.
“I love coaching the girls,” he told the Metro East Sun. “I feel like we've got a strong program established, and our feeder program is great, and just a lot of good things have happened in the last handful of years, and I expect whole lot more in the future to keep happening because we've got a great thing going here at Civic Memorial.”
After guiding the Eagles to another great record and postseason showing last season, Denney was selected as an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Girls Basketball Coach of the Year recently.
Civic Memorial went 31-3, during which the Eagles had a 16-game winning streak to start the season, added a 14-game winning streak later, and reached the super-sectionals, marking the fifth consecutive season the program has won its regional title. The Eagles' three losses were by a total of 14 points.
“I just think the consistency we played with all season was definitely, as a coach, what I was most proud of because it's jut a tribute to the girls' hard work and coming to practice on a mission and going out and executing the way we practice and things we worked on,” Denney said. “Just a great group of kids who were able to get the job done, for the most part.”
And practice is something Denney said he loves as a part of coaching, including the offseason and summer workouts. He said that the day he does not enjoy going to practice probably will be the day he stops coaching.
“I enjoy the process of them getting better and watching the growth in a kid coming in, an incoming freshman … and just watching them buy into the process and buy into the program and seeing how they develop over four years,” he said.
With that love of practice and development comes a deep appreciation of working on fundamentals, which Denney said he sees more of in the girls game.
“If you execute the fundamentals and play the game the right way, you can do a lot of great things,” he said.
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610 Texas Blvd
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