Recently named New Berlin West boys basketball coach Chris Foley has worked under some talented head coaches during his brief career. If he can absorb some of their knowledge through osmosis, the Vikings program will be better for it.
Foley replaces Jeff Lewiston, who retired this spring after 20 seasons on the job.
Foley, 29, spent one year (2006-07) as an assistant to Jim Gosz at Milwaukee King. In that one season, the Generals went to the state tournament and lost in the quarterfinals.
So what did he learn from the famous prep coach.
"His intensity, his passion for game, his love for the kids, love for game," Foley said. "You could just see it on sideline. You could also see the outward respond of his kids to that."
He then went to the collegiate level for three seasons and worked at worked under Dave Schultz at Carroll University (2007-08, 2008-09) and at Henderson State in Arkansas (2009-10).
Foley was thrilled working with Schultz for two seasons.
"He is one of the greatest offensive-minded coaches," he said. "He played transition basketball. they averaged 80 points. He gave his players the freedom to play basketball."
Foley then returned home and spent the past four seasons working under Mark Adams at Brookfield Central, the last three as a varsity assistant. He worked under Luke Benish as a junior varsity assistant is first season (2010-11) at Central and moved up to varsity his last three seasons there.
The Lancers won the last two Greater Metro Conference titles and were the state's top team for most of the regular season in 2013-14.
While with the varsity staff, Foley was part of a 3-year run that saw Central go 61-11 overall and 38-4 in the Greater Metro Conference which included back-to-back conference championships the last two years and an undefeated 2013-14 regular season.
He praised Adams' organizational skills.
"The way he organized his program, right down through the youth level. His organizational skills were unbelievable. He built relationships, strong relationships. He had alumni coming back."
Foley plans on doing that with the New Berlin West Youth Program, under the guidance of Ken Herenda.
Foley handled the Lancers' scouting reports, initially with live scouting when he was with the JV. On the varsity he worked on defense, handling in game adjustments with central's 1-3-1 zone.
Adams talked in detail about the job Foley did in-game.
"Over last couple years he would watch where the opponents' offense put people and would try and attack our 1-3-1 defense. He would diagram it for me — I'm a visual person — and by the end of the first quarter we were in a position to know how the opponents were attacking. That was really something key for us."
Foley will bring along Benish as an assistant as well as Brandon Mattox, who has been at Milwaukee Vincent for five seasons. Benish will be his defensive coach and Mattox his skills coach.
Foley is looking to give his players freedom on the court.
"I'm a motion guy," he said. "I want to give my team freedom to play. They need to trust in the each other, the rules, guidelines. But I want to teach them and let them play. I won't be calling set plays. We'll run the flex some.
"Defensively, I'm a man-to-man guy. We will help each other. Our goal is to let the other team shoot jump shots."
Foley stressed there will be plenty of competition this season.
"Everything is wide open starting spots, playing time," he said. "We will see the energy the bring to to compete — seniors down to freshmen."
Special ed teacher
Foley will also be joining the entire New Berlin West community working in the special education department as well as coaching basketball.
He worked as a special education assistant while at Central while pursuing his special education teaching license. He is a 2007 graduate of Carroll University and a 2003 graduate of Marquette High School.
"He's loyal. He's a hard worker," Adams said. "He has knowledge of the game. He's learned a lot. He has a good understanding, a good feel for the game. I know he's young, but he has learned a lot in a short amount of time."
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