Glenbard East tabs hall of famer Biancalana as new coach
Al Biancalana is back where he belongs. Leading a basketball team.
Glenbard East athletic director D'Wayne Bates on Wednesday announced the hiring of Biancalana, a 2015 inductee into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, as the boys head coach.
Biancalana has 32 years of coaching experience including 10 years as a Division I men's assistant at Bradley and Illinois-Chicago. He succeeds Scott Miller, who retired after this season.
A fellow IBCA hall of famer, Miller owned a record of 358-308 in 24 seasons as head coach, 21 of them at Glenbard East with a third-place Class 4A finish in 2011. Last season he led the Rams to a 22-10 record and an Addison Trail sectional semifinal.
"I have a great admiration for Scott. He was the first one to approach me about the possibility of coming to East," said Biancalana, who resigned as DeKalb's coach on April 30, 2019, to serve as a dean at Glenbard East.
"I think in many respects I'm caretaker of a program he's established the last 20 years," he said. "He's done a great job setting the foundation and though we may see the game a little bit differently and approach the game a little differently, the core ideals of holding kids accountable and having high expectations that are so important for the success of a program, we have a very similar approach to that."
A Wheaton resident married to wife, Laura, and the father of three children, Biancalana, 59, will teach physical education at Glenbard East.
"Being an administrator and dean this past school year afforded him an opportunity to comprehend the bigger scope of Glenbard East, our diverse communities, and how athletics is an important part of total curriculum. His basketball philosophy of 'Be More' is exactly what we were looking for in our next head coach," Bates said in an email to the Daily Herald.
"It was the first time in 45 years that I didn't stand in front of a team for a season," said Biancalana, who called the break "a rejuvenation."
Raised in Elmwood Park and a 1978 graduate of Holy Cross, he first started coaching YMCA basketball after he was cut from Holy Cross' sophomore team. As a senior at Elmhurst College he was the freshman coach at Weber High School under Jim Harrington, Mike Bailey and John Bonk, all IBCA hall of famers.
"I see myself as a teacher and I've always thought my ability to teach the game of basketball has been one of my strengths and a big part of my success. We're a detail-oriented, fundamentally-based program," Biancalana said.
"We pay a lot of emphasis on all the small, little things I think are big things especially when you're playing these money games and trying to win a championship. I feel that our identity has always been defense. Defense is the foundation of our program but offensive skill development determines your ultimate success."
He added: "The only time I like to see a turnover is when I walk into a bakery."
Biancalana brings a head coaching record of 416-219 that includes a 120-53 mark, and a state championship, in California. He led York, Downers Grove North and Stagg all to regional titles and most recently led DeKalb to a school-record five straight Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference titles from 2015-2019.
Noting that a main attraction to the position was the opportunity to work with Bates, Biancalana is ready to return to what he does best. Teach basketball players on and off the court.
"I'm extremely excited about the opportunity. I think there's a lot that is already there we can tap into to be successful. The kids in our program are hardworking guys. I know that they're willing to sacrifice and become very smart basketball players. It's a program I feel can have sustained success and it's our goal to be a Daily Herald Top 20 team every single year," he said.
"The process is more valuable than the result. We spend a lot of time on the daily process to become better players, to become better students and to become better members of the community."