'Those were always fun'

'Those were always fun'

Chad Benedict  won six regional titles in 19 seasons coaching at Chrisman (1999 to 2006) and Mahomet-Seymour (2006 to 2018). The man who helped lead M-S to the Class 3A Elite Eight in 2015 will serve as the South coach in today's Class 3A/4A Illinois Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Game in Pontiac. Before the action tips off at 6 p.m., sports editor MATT DANIELS caught up with Benedict:

What did it mean to you to be chosen for the IBCA coaching role?

It's certainly a special honor. When they contacted me last fall about doing it, coach Neil Alexander from Lincoln reached out to see if I'd be interested. You're never quite sure when things might come along like this. I ran into former Champaign Central coach Lee Cabutti this week, and we talked for a while. He coached in this game before, and he was giving me his whole strategy on playing time and how to sub guys in and out. I'll just try to manage the game. We do get one practice in with them, so we can get a couple out of bounds plays in, but the main thing is just try to have some fun and sub accordingly.

What was one overwhelming moment in your coaching career?

I would say there's probably two. One, when I got to Chrisman and I had my first varsity practice there. You step in the gym and realized the history of Chrisman basketball and what Roger Beals accomplished in that gym and Dave Chandler, too. It was one of those, 'Whoa, OK, here we go.' Then, the second one was here at Mahomet. When I left Chrisman, we had 47 or 48 boys in the high school. My first year at Mahomet, we had 57 or 58 boys go out for basketball for all the programs. It was just a little different. It's still basketball, but the management side was different.

What was one play or offensive scheme you really enjoyed drawing up?

That's a great question. That has evolved, but we settled in on some out of bounds plays that worked well. Nothing was original. We've stolen everything (laughs), but I really enjoyed scouting different teams and seeing what works. We felt pretty confident with our out of bounds plays underneath the basket. There was a little lob play where we would stick a guy right underneath the rim and everybody knew we would do it. The ironic thing is none of my kids could really jump except one in 10-plus years, but we would still find ways to get baskets off that. We put another guy on the block — and I was fortunate enough to coach three of the top five leading scorers in Mahomet history in Cory Noe, Conner Diedrich and Reid Farchmin — and you could run those kids in that action. It forced the defense to either have to guard them or it would free up the screener. Those were always fun.

What advice would you give a first-year coach?

I would tell them to find a good mentor. Find a school that mirrors your school that has had success and the type of athletes that you do, that has the same makeup as your school, and then look at that guy and ask him a ton of questions. Take him to dinner and pick his brain as much as possible to grow and get better. The other thing I would tell him is wherever you're at, this thing can eat you up. Wherever you're at spiritually, you've got to surround yourself with people who have the same goals and beliefs that you do because they'll help you out tremendously.

When did it sink in about what your Mahomet-Seymour team accomplished in 2015?

When we beat Decatur MacArthur in the sectional semifinals. We got done going through the line after the game where we shook hands and everybody was celebrating. My son, Noah, was a freshman that season and he was cheering behind the bench. I just happened to see him, found him and we embraced. We hadn't won the sectional yet, but that was a moment where it felt like it's been a heck of a journey to get to this point. There was a time at Mahomet where we weren't sure that was going to happen. As I look back on it now, especially as I clean out my office, the process of what those kids did was amazing and learning from the kids before them to put themselves in that position.