Todd Severns has experience. Severns, who was named the new girls head basketball coach at Richmond-Burton last week, headed Hampshire’s sophomore hoops team last season and also was the head boys coach at Woodstock from 2003 to 2005. In all, he has coached and taught in high school for two decades after his playing career at Aurora University, a Division III program. He also has a few stories. Severns grew up in Deerfield near the Bulls’ old practice facility, the Deerfield Multiplex. There, as a high schooler and as a club member, he befriended a number of players from Horace Grant, to Scottie Pippen, to Stacey King during the team’s first run of NBA titles.
The facility, though it was rented by the Bulls, was owned by the Multiplex. The gym was awesome. The floor was great and springy, and had the Bulls’ insignia painted, the professional 3-point line. It was really nice. Sometimes the Bulls would go practice. I never, never said a word to them. Probably because I was intimidated, but also out of respect. I never bothered them, but one day I was shooting. If I was shooting at one end, I’d always go down to the far end. I left them alone. Horace and Scottie walk toward me. I go, ‘you want me to leave?’ They go, ‘nah it’s cool.’ They even start rebounding for me. They just kind of said, ‘We’ve been watching you for a long time, you come in every day, twice a day, and never bug us. You just work and you leave and we think that’s pretty cool. We wanted to introduce ourselves.’ And I’m like, ‘I know who you are.’
I was a shooter and I wasn’t strong enough, so I kind of had to have a hitch in my shot. It’s a very noticeable jump shot. I remember one time I was playing outside at a park, and there’s an overpass right by where the Berto Center is. I was playing, and it was one of the coolest moments of my life. This jeep drives up with tinted windows, and the window comes down and it’s Scottie. He calls me over, ‘I knew it was you because I tell by your jump shot.’ And I go, ‘Wow, Scottie Pippen knows my jump shot. That’s pretty cool.’ When you live in that area, you do sometimes see them in the grocery store. That’s where a lot of the guys lived. For me, it was just an unforgettable experience. I don’t talk about it much because I don’t want to sound like Bobby Brady, you know that episode where he says he played football with Joe Namath. Because that’s kind of what it sounds like.
The best part about Division III was you’re playing strictly for the love of the game. You have to buy your own shoes for crying out loud. The fact you could go in and just play, that it was competitive, that it was structured. It was still serious. But the fact you knew you weren’t going to go pro. That was kind of cool about Division III. That pressure wasn’t there. If you didn’t play basketball or not, you were still able to be a student. It was icing on the cake, it was a benefit, it was a privilege. It was cool to say I played college ball.
After doing this for 21 years, and I’m not knocking any coach who does it, I totally understand and believe in a program philosophy, but sometimes it becomes jamming a square peg in a round hole. My vision, in a perfect world, I play man-to-man. I play pressure man-to-man with an occasional half-court trap. I would run a lot of motion. I love the offense called the shuffle. It’s run by a Hall of Fame coach from Fox Lake Grant High Tom Maple. I compared it to the old Packers power sweep of the ’60s. Not fancy, boring as heck, but effective.
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