June 12, 2024
Illinois High School Sports

Girls basketball: Former Hinckley-Big Rock boys coach Bob Barnett takes over girls program

IBCA Hall of Famer inherits program with a lot of returning players from 19-win team

Hinckley-Big Rock new girls basketball head coach Bob Barnett teaches his team a play during practice Monday, June 10, 2024, at the school in Hinckley.

HINCKLEY – In an ideal world Bob Barnett would take his first week slowly as Hinckley-Big Rock’s girls basketball coach, deliberately going over principles and getting a feel for his new players before installing new plays.

In the reality that featured a tournament on a Tuesday, Day 1 was a crash course.

“With two hours of practice before a tournament, I think it’s a lot of information going in, but not like overloading where we’ll forget everything,” senior Raven Wagner said. “We’ll handle it well and hopefully take things smoothly. He sees what we can and can’t do and will go off of that.”

Barnett joined the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2013. Always a boys coach in the past, he was at Hinckley-Big Rock from 1994-2002, winning regional title in 1998, 2000 and 2001. He left for Hampshire, where he coached until he retired in 2015.

Hinckley-Big Rock players listen to new girls basketball head coach Bob Barnett during practice Monday, June 10, 2024, at the school in Hinckley.

In 2022, he became an assistant under former H-BR player Steve Christiansen at Aurora University. He said the recruiting grind was a challenge – from a travel standpoint and with the challenges that an NCAA Division III program faces – so he decided to return to the high school level.

He still lives in Hinckley, so when the opportunity arose to work five blocks from home, he jumped at the chance – although his first practice Monday wasn’t exactly how he would have planned it.

“We’re in a shootout [Tuesday] at Reed-Custer playing four games, so I had to throw in stuff that I wasn’t going to do until probably Thursday or Friday and just drill into the offenses and schemes I want to do,” Barnett said. “But we got thrown into the fire, and so this was just a crash course on what we want to do offensively and defensively. I think they’re pretty smart kids so they’ll grasp stuff. But come Wednesday we’re going to do a lot of drills, a lot of fundamental stuff.”

Barnett takes over for Doug Brewington, who went 125-139 in nine years, including three 20-win seasons and regional titles in 2022 and 2023, the first for the program since 2014.

The team was very young last season with just one senior in the rotation. The Royals went 19-14, the first time they didn’t hit 20 wins in a full season since 2019. Incoming seniors Wagner and Sami Carlino return after solid 2024 campaigns, as does junior Anna Herrmann.

Herrmann needed barely a year and a half to become the school’s all-time leading 3-point shooter and was named the to the Daily Chronicle All-Area first team last year. Carlino was a second-team selection and Wagner was honorable mention.

Carlino said there’s been a lot to learn, not only with the new coach but a new influx of freshmen. After Monday’s first practice, Herrmann said she was excited.

“It’s kind of scary because I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Herrmann said. “We have to start over, all of our plays, everything. We’re just starting to get to know him. It’s going to be difficult, but overall I think it’s going to be good. We’ve already done a bunch of plays and stuff for [Tuesday’s] tournament, so I think it’s going to be really good.”

The Royals played in a quick-tempo offense under Brewington. Herrmann said Barnett already has installed a lot of up-and-down stuff, and the coach said he prefers his team to set the tempo.

But Barnett also said whatever he runs is going to fit his players’ skillsets.

“I was told this a long time ago, summer is to figure out what you can’t do,” Barnett said. “That’s what we’re going to do. Some of the stuff we put in, I see some kids are not familiar with it, which is fine because it’s brand new to them, but I have to adapt to the personnel we have. That’s my job. I have to mold what I do to fit them, and that’s what I’ll be doing for the rest of the summer.”

Eddie Carifio

Eddie Carifio

Daily Chronicle sports editor since 2014. NIU beat writer. DeKalb, Sycamore, Kaneland, Genoa-Kingston, Indian Creek, Hiawatha and Hinckley-Big Rock coverage as well.