Wait just a second. Is that who I think it is? I realize my brain’s a little scattered sometimes, but I think I see Al Allen back coaching the OPRF boys basketball team. But there’s Matt Maloney, the current head coach, too. Just glancing at their noggins, I know it’s not 1993 when a well-coifed Maloney played for a less well-coifed Allen, but there they sit, side-by-side on the bench, mentee and mentor — or, are the roles reversed now?
It appears Allen, who coached the Huskies for 21 years, has come out of retirement this season to be Maloney’s assistant — or as Maloney likes to refer to him, as “my defensive coordinator.”
Maloney, now entering his third year since taking over the program from Allen, says having his predecessor to bounce ideas off is an advantage.
“I know what people are thinking, and I get asked the question a lot whether or not it’s a conflict of interest to have the former head coach as your assistant, but in our situation it is not a problem. Al and I are very good friends and I value his input a great deal. Not only that, his knowledge of the game is tremendous. Having him back is a win-win for the program.”
Yeah, until you find yourself doing gassers in your dress shoes after a game because you made the wrong substitution. Maloney insists that won’t be the case — he hopes.
“Al knows his place. I’ve already made several changes to the way we do things in this program that he may be a little suspect about, but he’s on board 100 percent,” Maloney says. “We have great banter about our differences in coaching styles.”
He last took direction from Allen during the 1991-’92 and ’92-’93 seasons when he played guard for a team that went 48-8 during that span. The ’92-’93 season also marked the last time the Huskies won the Pontiac Holiday Tournament.
Back in April of 2008, Allen, who went 364-193 at OPRF, walked off the basketball court with these departing words: “The program is in very good hands. And if a meteor hits the earth and he needs me to go scout for him, I will. But it’s Matt’s team and Matt’s program now.”
The way Allen explains it, a meteor didn’t exactly hit the earth, but last spring Maloney was desperate for coaches with experience, and Allen happened to have some free time.
“So here I am, back at it again, but this time I’m learning from one of my former players,” says Allen, who is in the Illinois High School Hall of Fame for his coaching prowess. “Matt is a great coach and I’m here to make things easier on him.”
Already the two seem to be off kilter a bit. Al “just had an itch to come back and play a behind-the-scenes role,” says Maloney.
Wait, who wanted or needed whom back?
Someone’s gonna run gassers if I don’t get some straightforward answers!