Murphysboro cager coach gets the hang of things quite quickly
Keith Jones made history in his first season at Murphysboro High School (MHS).
The MHS girls basketball head coach guided the Red Devils to the program's first regional title in 34 years as part of its 22-7 season.
For his efforts, Jones was named a Coach of the Year by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.
“I was pretty excited about it,” Jones told the Southeast Illinois News. “You know, anytime you get an honor over something that you worked really hard at, you know, you really appreciate it.”
A Southern Illinois University graduate who taught science for two years at Mount Vernon High School before coming to MHS, Jones served as an assistant coach for three years in the Red Devils program, then took over as head coach.
He said to reach his winning ways, he made some simple changes, like altering some practice drills and making basketball a mix of fun and work.
“Everything ended up working out pretty well,” he said. “I had some really good leaders on the team that made sure everybody was working hard in practice and stuff like that. I had really good assistants this year. It all kind of came together.”
Jones, who played hoops at Sesser-Valier High School for IBCA Hall of Fame member Rick Metcalf, said he has improved as a coach with game-time decisions like substitution and when to use timeouts. He also feels he has improved in scouting and picking up on other teams' weaknesses.
“In your first year, I don't know if anybody is 100 percent prepared for it,” he said. “It's just that you get better as the year goes on. I think I'll be a little bit more prepared this year going in than I was last year.”
To get better for next season, Jones plans to “improve everywhere,” as well as building up the program by getting players excited for it and wanting to come out and play.