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Boys Basketball: Marian Catholic Mike Taylor SouthtownStar 2012-13 Coach of the Year

Marian Catholic's Mike Taylor. l File photo

Marian Catholic's Mike Taylor. l File photo

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Updated: April 22, 2013 11:31AM



Coaching is in Mike Taylor’s blood.

His father, Richard, coached basketball at Mount Prospect and Rantoul high schools. Taylor’s grandfather coached basketball, football and baseball.

So it was fairly likely Taylor, who spent many of his days in gyms growing up in Rantoul, would follow in the family footsteps.

“I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” Taylor said.

Taylor has guided Marian Catholic’s boys basketball program for 10 seasons, leading the Spartans to regional championships in 2006 and ’09. In fact, the Spartans won 22 games during that 2005-06 campaign. A nice season for sure.

However, what Marian Catholic accomplished this season was one for the books.

The Spartans broke the school record for wins in a season, going 29-3 and claiming the first sectional championship in school history.

And they did it relying exclusively on a staring lineup of non-seniors.

While many pointed to next season as Marian’s breakout campaign, Taylor talked often to his team this season about seizing every moment presented to them, knowing tomorrow is promised to no one.

Until the Class 4A Normal Supersectional, Marian Catholic seized each and every moment, in large part to Taylor, the Beggars Pizza/SouthtownStar 2012-13 Boys Basketball Coach of the Year.

“This is obviously a very nice honor, though nothing that I really ever sought,” Taylor said. “The credit goes to the kids.”

Yes, the kids, in the end, must execute the game plan. But the importance of devising those game plans shouldn’t be minimized.

Taylor had the Spartans in position to win every game.

Of course it helps to have a talent such as junior point guard Tyler Ulis — the Beggars Pizza/SouthtownStar 2012-13 Player of the Year.

Taylor, though, demonstrated the necessary confidence and trust that allowed Ulis the freedom to showcase his skills and make the proper decisions on the court.

In other words, Taylor didn’t overcoach.

“Tyler is such a special player,” Taylor said. “A player like Tyler, you have to let him go out there and improvise some.”

Putting that much faith in one player might cause some bruised egos among the ranks.

To a man, though, the Spartans checked egos at the door and followed the game plan put forth by Taylor.

“I didn’t sense much jealousy from the players,” Taylor said. “The great thing about this group is that they’re great friends. I think the kids realized how he (Ulis) was able to make them better players and a better team.”

Taylor is confident the Spartans can remain among the elite next season and, hopefully, beyond.

“We’ve been pretty consistently around a .500 program,” said Taylor, whose career 150-139 record reflects that. “We’re happy, but we’ve seen it before in 2005-06 and in 2008-09 where we made it to sectionals but we didn’t take the next step the following years. This isn’t something we want to do every four or five years.

“We’re more aware of things we have to do to build some consistency. The schedule we play has been upgraded. We play Bloom twice, we play H-F. It’s a pretty tall task. We’re no longer playing with these teams, we can beat them. We’re raising the expectations.”

Taylor and wife, Theresa, reside with their three children, sons Sean and Casey and daughter Ryan, in Homewood. Sean will attend Marian Catholic in the fall and has intentions of playing basketball one day for his father.

“I told him to go to H-F,” Taylor said, laughing. “I gave him the choice. He knows how I can be on players. I’ve never coached him. I’ve just sat and enjoyed watching him. But I’m looking forward to it.”



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