A memorable era of Batavia basketball ended when longtime coach and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame member Jim Roberts retired. Jim Nazos arrives from a successful stint at Wheaton North, which included regional titles in 2001, 2002 and 2007, and Batavia’s players are apparently excited to get the Nazos era going.
“We had 25 guys try out for varsity,” Nazos said. “We did have to make some cuts, which is just an unfortunate part of the job.”
Making cuts was made even tougher by the fact that so many players are returning this season. Cole Gardner, the leading scorer last season, has graduated. But Zach Strittmatter (9.2 points per game), Mike Rueffer (7.7 per game), Jake Pollack (7.1 per game) and Micah Coffey (5.8 per game) were all key pieces last season and all are returning this year.
Strittmatter and Rueffer are starting their third varsity seasons. Mike Carlson, Luke Horton and Tucker Knox were also on the varsity squad last winter and add experience and depth.
Nazos didn’t have an opportunity to spend a lot of time with the team during the summer (coaches are allotted 25 contact days). But in the short time he was with the Bulldogs, he did get a chance to lay the groundwork for the upcoming campaign.
“I did get to implement a little bit of what we’re going to do,” the coach said. “Any time it’s anything new, it’s step by step, inch by inch, but they do have a little bit of base and it’s been going well. They’re getting it.”
The coaches may have changed, but the philosophies haven’t. Batavia fans should expect much the same from the Nazos-coached squad as they did from Roberts’ teams.
“I hope our fans see solid man-to-man defense and an offense that shares the ball well,” Nazos said. “We want to be one of the most fundamentally sound teams in our conference, and hopefully our fans see a team that plays hard every night and represents the school and community well.”
At a glance
COACH Jim Nazos2011-12 RECORD 7-19 TOP PLAYERS Mike Carlson sr. F Micah Coffey jr. G Luke Horton sr. F Tucker Knox jr. F Jake Pollack sr. G Mike Rueffer sr. G Zach Strittmatter sr. F
FIRST GAME Wednesday at Batavia Ken Peddy Windmill City Classic
9.3 Average rebounds per game for Cole Gardner, who graduated in the spring. He also averaged a team-high 16.4 points last season.