The wait is over
How long has Drew Eubank wanted to be a basketball coach?
“I went as (former Bulls coach) Phil Jackson on dress like your idol day in elementary school,” Eubank said. “It’s always what I’ve wanted to do. When you get to a certain age, you realize what a special place Indiana is.”
One glance was all he needed to affirm that as the boys hit the floor a few minutes after 5 p.m. Monday, the first official day of practice around the state.
“Looking at a gym like this, you don’t see this a lot of other places,” Eubank said. “It’s exciting because of the atmosphere we’ll have throughout the year, how serious the kids take it. You get extra pressure because of that, but the pressure is exciting.”
Eubank, a former Michigan City assistant, had no problem sleeping the night before. He and former Wolves colleague Luke Snyder drove to Buffalo for Sunday’s Bears-Bills game and didn’t get back until after midnight. That’s not to say there wasn’t any anxiousness.
“I’ve had a practice plan ready to go for two weeks,” Eubank said. “I’m excited to get started. It’s something I’ve looked forward to. When I played, we had three weeks (before the season), now we have two. We have to be sharp, really sharp, get everything in we want to get in by the first game.”
That game will be Nov. 20 in a familiar place, the Wolves Den, a matchup with M.C. that was arranged after Eubank took over at the Porter County Conference school.
“I thought I’d be excited about certain things. In reality, these guys have gotten me excited throughout the summer and fall,” he said. “They’ve worked really hard.
“Just starting in June, they had a hard time functioning. Now they’re looking like really solid basketball players. Some guys’ confidence is sky high. It’s a great group of guys. I’m excited to work with them every day, to see how much we can grow without the limitations we have in the offseason.”
Josh DeChantal, one of just a few holdovers from a senior-heavy team that won the school’s first PCC round robin and tournament titles, has been on board with his new coach from day one.
“Personally, I think he’s a good coach. Everybody likes him,” DeChantal said. “We’re definitely running a lot more plays. That’s for sure. We’re definitely conditioning a lot more. We’re working on being more of a team. He definitely loves the game. You can tell. He’s pushing us to be as good as we can be. We know his mindset is focusing on the (state) tournament after the season. He wants us to get another conference (title) up (on the wall).”
The talented 6-foot-4 junior was given the keys to the offense by Eubank in the summer and he’s seen marked improvement in his many new teammates since then.
“I didn’t know how some of these players could play,” DeChantal said. “It’s the first year for all of us coming together. We played all summer together. So far, I have a good feel for how it’s going to go.”
Coaching careers are measured by their record and those aforementioned titles, but that’s just a small part of the picture for Eubank as he embarks on his first season as the guy in charge.
“We want guys to play the right way, to represent the community well,” he said. “It’s not about wins and losses, it’s about going out and playing hard every night. This is a tight-knit community. There’s not a whole lot of moving in and out. You’ve got kids with dads, uncles, grandparents who played (here). There’s a family tradition to worry about. That’s not something you see everywhere.”