When Stagg coach John Daniels resigned in March, citing family reasons for his departure, Charger fans had reason to be concerned.
Daniels built a winning boys basketball program the past 14 years, producing four 20-win seasons, including last year’s 20-7 record.
Not only was Stagg successful, its uptempo style was fun to watch.
Consolidated District 230, however, has shown a tendency to hire from within its three schools, which includes Andrew and Sandburg. It’s a gesture that rewards loyalty, but doesn’t necessarily attract the most qualified candidate.
I’m pleased to report Stagg fans can rest easy.
The district announced Thursday that Marty Strus will take over as Daniels’ replacement.
This hire is a slam dunk.
Just listen to what Daniels had to say about his former player.
“Marty is one of my favorite people in the world,” Daniels said. “If I could have picked anyone to take over for me, I couldn’t have picked a better person. He’s one of the top five players I’ve ever coached. He’s a great person who’s going to be a great coach at Stagg.”
If the Strus name sounds familiar, well, it should.
And not just because he’s the older brother of Stagg legend Max Strus, who after following in Marty’s footsteps to Lewis transferred in 2016 to DePaul.
Marty Strus, a 2008 Stagg graduate, also played at Lewis. He made the all-defensive team in the Great Lakes Valley Conference and also was named academic all-conference.
If you’re a parent who demands a coach place as much as emphasis on A’s and B’s as X’s and O’s, Strus is your man.
Strus coached the last four seasons at Lyons, splitting time between the freshman and sophomore teams. Now he’s back home, and couldn’t be more pleased.
“I’m very excited,” Strus said. “Stagg’s a new job, but not a new place. It’s been kind of a whirlwind. I’m very happy to be back.”
Strus, 27, doesn’t need to rely on a clipboard to get his point across. He’s still capable of getting on the court and demonstrating to players how to execute the game plan.
And they would be wise to watch and learn. The 6-foot-9 Strus will provide an intimidating presence on the sideline.
But what should really resonate with current and future players is how Strus walked the halls of the Palos Hills school and understands the value of a District 230 education.
He also realizes the significance of playing Sandburg.
“I could sit here and say that Sandburg is just another game on the schedule,” Strus said. “But I know it’s not. It’s a pretty special atmosphere when both of us are doing well. There’s a lot of intensity. It’s fun.”
Strus has kept a close enough tab on Stagg’s program that he realizes he’s not inheriting a rebuild. Far from it, with the likes of players such as Martynas Macenis, Josh Blim and John Mahoney on board.
I believe Macenis, a 6-4 junior, is a star in the making.
“The guys we have coming back, we could do some nice things in the coming years,” Strus said. “We’re not going to reinvent the wheel. We’re just going to try and build on the culture coach Daniels put in place.”
Strus promises an uptempo style, similar to what Daniels instituted.
“We’re going to try and be more prepared than our opponent,” Strus said. “Everyone will have their role. Our job as coaches is to get them to buy into that role. We’re going to put our players in the best position to succeed and play hard until the final whistle.”