Former Cyclone David Howard takes the helm of the men’s
basketball team for the 2013-14 season. He earned the coveted
role in late spring 2013 when Dedrick Shannon retired after
leading the Cyclones through nine seasons, two regional
championships, three conference championships, and a trip to
nationals where the team was runner-up. Those are some big shoes
to fill, but Howard is excited and ready for the challenge.
“I feel the pressure to follow coach Bill Finn, who’s a hall of fame coach, who then entrusted the team to Dedrick, and they had an amazing season last year. It would be disappointing if I couldn’t build on what they created,” he said. “This is like a dream come true because I wanted to coach on the collegiate level. I have this opportunity, and now I have to make the best of it. I love this. This is not a job I have to peel myself out of bed for.”
Howard has been around basketball since he was 4 years old. He played at Whitney Young High School in Chicago and helped his team win the city championship his freshman year before becoming a three-year varsity player. After tearing his ACL senior year, he realized the importance of academics. While figuring out his educational path, he bounced around a few colleges including Waubonsee Community College and Moraine Valley, where he played under Shannon. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL again while at Moraine Valley but was steered toward coaching while earning a BA at DePaul University (2006-08). He started as an assistant varsity coach at Christian Fenger Academy High School. He then headed the JV team and then became head varsity coach at Perspectives Charter School where he led the squad to its first winning season. That team advanced to state rounds and won more games than any other in the school’s history. Howard was later an assistant at Corliss High School. Most recently he was a utility coach for freshman, sophomore and varsity teams at Wendell Phillips Academy High School.
Once Howard heard there would be a coaching opportunity at Moraine Valley, he jumped at the chance. “I’m grateful that coach Finn and Dedrick opened this door for me. This is truly a blessing for me to be named head coach,” he said.
With a new coach comes a new system, and Howard is no exception. He wants a melding of sport, academics and life. “My philosophy is to teach life through basketball. After my ACL reconstruction, I hung up my laces. I didn’t want it to happen, but at some point you have to hang up the laces and work. I want the players prepared. I want them to work on the court and in the classroom and develop them as young men of high quality and character and top citizens as a whole,” he said. “It’s a tough task, but I welcome it, and I believe I can make a difference. We’ll learn from each other. When they look back, I hope they think it was meaningful and that they learned to be disciplined and set goals.”
On the court, Howard wants his guys to use their basketball IQ, play the game more mentally. Through repetition at practice, attention to detail and good conditioning, he hopes this focus will aid his smaller-sized squad. Howard said he also is allowing his players to voice their opinions on what’s going well or what might work better, but he still has the upper hand. This keeps everyone involved and engaged and ideally working harder.
This effort from all sides will pay off, Howard said, and he has high expectations. “If we don’t return to nationals, I’ll be disappointed and feel I let everyone down. I’m ready to do what I have to do.”