July 19, 2024
Sports - McHenry County

Sports - McHenry County

High school boys basketball: Hampshire’s Bob Barnett to retire as season’s end

Bob Barnett

HAMPSHIRE – There are moments when Hampshire boys basketball coach Bob Barnett just doesn’t feel like himself.

Barnett notices his mind isn’t processing things as it used to. Where he used to be proactive, he now reacts. Stress and fatigue of the season have worn him out more substantially than in most of his 28 years as a head coach.

In one game, Barnett started to diagram a play during a timeout and had to have an assistant coach finish it for him.

“That’s when I got too much up here (pointing at his head) and not enough sleep to handle it,” Barnett said. “I don’t do mediocre. If I’m not at my best, then somebody else should be doing it.”

So Barnett, with a 456-302 career record and a spot in the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, told his players before Monday’s practice that he will retire after the season. The Whip-Purs finish the regular season in their Fox Valley Conference placement crossover game Friday with an opponent to be determined, then compete at the Class 3A Burlington Central Regional next week, where they are the top seed.

Barnett, 54, suffered two heart attacks on the morning of the opener for the 2012-13 season, but returned in a few weeks and finished that season. Barnett, in his 28th season as head coach, did not want to blame his retirement on his health, although he missed one game last season and missed one last week when he was ill.

Nevertheless, Barnett said it was the grind of a season that took its toll and made him realize it was time to leave. Hampshire (14-1 overall, 4-8 FVC Fox) was 13-2 at one point, but Barnett said he sensed it was time even before that skid.

“I wear myself down. I do this to myself,” said Barnett, a Class A All-State player at Oregon in 1979. “It consumes me, nothing else matters but me fixing that problem. It was a tough decision, but it’s the right decision. I am not coaching to the level of my expectations, which is difficult to swallow. I’m watching the ball and us. As a coach, you have to watch the opposing team and see what they’re doing away from the ball. I’m watching the ball instead of making adjustments.”

Barnett attributed that to fatigue throughout the season. He says he often operates on five hours of sleep because he will go home and worry about how to fix problems, which keeps him awake at all hours.

Although Barnett is taking four medications after the heart attacks, he said he feels fine physically in the offseason and even earlier in the season.

“I’m not enjoying the wins like I used to,” Barnett said. “The losses are hard. I’m a happy-go-lucky guy until it’s basketball. In January and February, I get into this dark spot. My wife (Marcie) even said, ‘You have to pull yourself out of this.’ It’s difficult to admit that.”

Barnett’s Hampshire teams have had only one losing season – 8-18 in 2007 – and have a 218-133 record. He previously coached at Franklin Center, McHenry and Hinckley-Big Rock.

Before Monday, the only people aware of Barnett’s plan were his family, his coaching staff and Hampshire athletic director Dave Hicks.

“He’s like [former football coach Dan Cavanaugh] and others who have been here, he’s an institution,” Hicks said. “When you lose somebody who’s been here that long and been that successful, you don’t really replace them. We have to look forward to the next chapter and appreciate what Bob has done.”

Barnett will stay and teach physical education for five more years before retiring from that. He had hoped he could remain on as coach, but he began thinking about that retirement after his heart attacks. He looks forward to more time with Marcie and trips to their cabin in Galena.

“We can go there whenever we want to now,” Barnett said. “I know I’m going to miss some things, I just don’t know what yet. I’ve never not done basketball in my career.”

Joe Stevenson

Joe Stevenson

I have worked at the Northwest Herald since January of 1989, covering everything from high school to professional sports. I mainly cover high school sports now.