One of the most important duties of a head coach is to assemble a quality corps of assistant coaches.
First-year Saint Ignatius head basketball coach Cam Joyce has certainly accomplished that.
Joyce has gathered an excellent group of basketball coaches and men to assist him. His coaching staff has a great combination of young coaches and veterans, with plenty of playing and coaching experience.
"I'm very excited about my coaching staff," Joyce said. "We have a well-rounded group, guys who bring a lot of different experiences. If you have too many guys who are alike, you might not get different ideas. When I was putting together my coaching staff, I wanted to go with guys who would bring something unique individually."
Entering the 2019-20 season, Joyce has five varsity assistants. Many of the names are recognizable to Wildcats faithful and to fans of Northeast Ohio basketball.
Just about every fan knows the name Zydrunas Ilgauskas. A former big man with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the 7'3" coach sticks out in a crowd. Ilgauskas joined the coaching staff under Brian Becker '77, and will stay onboard with Joyce. A quiet, modest man, Ilgauskas is an outstanding coach who connects with players. Few coaches have the experience and knowledge that Ilgauskas has. If you're a big man in Northeast Ohio, there is no one better to learn from.
"Z helped on the previous coaching staff. When Z told me he wanted to stay onboard, I thought it was a no-brainer," Joyce said. "His resume speaks for itself, but beyond that, what's unique about Z is that he's really good to work with and he's really good with the kids. The kids love working with him. He's tremendous with our post players. He doesn't try to step on my toes or anything like that. Even with him being a pro, it's never, 'I know more than you.' He just wants to be part of the team. He blends in and does his part. He's a really funny guy, and he just brings really good energy."
Northeast Ohio basketball fans will also recognize the name Kyle Hubbard, a former Edsman who is now an Ignatius man.
A star at St. Edward from 2005-07, Hubbard played both football and basketball, drawing All-State honors and Division I offers for both sports. Hubbard settled on the University of Pittsburgh before finding out that Pittsburgh was not the city for him. Hubbard returned to Cleveland, enrolling at Cleveland State University. When he discovered that CSU was not a good match, Hubbard found his home at John Carroll University. Hubbard fit right in with the Blue Streaks, starring in football and basketball. He was named OAC Player of the Year and an AP All-American while playing for legend Mike Moran.
Since graduating, Hubbard has coached at John Carroll, Beachwood Middle School, and for the Cleveland Cavaliers' youth basketball program, the Cavs Academy.
"Kyle and I played AAU together. Kyle had a very successful career at St. Ed's, he was part of some very good teams there," Joyce said. "Kyle played in college at Cleveland State and John Carroll. Kyle and I have a good relationship, but I also thought Kyle could relate with guys because he went to an all-boys Catholic school in Cleveland, and he was a dual-sport athlete. And because of the position he played, he's really good with our bigs. He brings some good, unique ideas with working in the post, along with a unique energy."
Jarryd Tribble is another bright coach with a great mind. Tribble is a teacher at Shaker Heights Middle School. He previously coached at Bedford High School. Tribble and Joyce go way back.
And as it so happens, Tribble actually played with LeBron James during grade school on an AAU basketball team.
"He has really good experience. He's been coaching the last few years, and he has really good energy," Joyce said of Tribble. "He's the jokester of the group. He's always joking with the staff and the players. He's been great. He always wants to get better – he watches film, asks about ideas, and is eager to learn. He'll be a head coach someday in this area, no doubt about it."
Lyndon Brooks will also bring experience and good ideas to the program. Brooks is an assistant principal at Campus International School, as well as a former coach for Shaker Heights.
"Lyndon has a lot of experience," Joyce said of Brooks. "He's been an assistant coach and a freshman coach over at Shaker Heights for a long time. He stopped coaching last year, but he reached out to me. I got to meet Lyndon years ago working at LeBron James Academy when he was working as a camp counselor. We developed a relationship and he reached out to me. He has really good experience not only on the court, but off the court with Hudl, video, logistics, and all of that stuff he used to do at Shaker. On the court, he's another guy who brings positive experience and knows the game."
The youngest guy on the staff is a name familiar to many Wildcats fans. Joe Isabella '15 rounds out Joyce's staff. Isabella played at Saint Ignatius before heading to the University of Dayton.
Isabella, the son of Major Gifts Officer Don Isabella, currently works at ABM Industries as a financial analyst. Isabella is a bright young man.
"Joe is the youngest guy on the staff and played at Ignatius for all 4 years," Joyce said. "Joe just brings a relatability of just being in high school recently and having played at Ignatius. He's great with guys coming off the floor, being positive. He can be a good cop if I'm strict with someone. He's been great so far. The guys really enjoy Joe."
The three members of the JV coaching staff are also no strangers to Saint Ignatius basketball.
The JV head coach, Tom Parker '10, led the freshmen gold squad in the last few seasons. Parker is an outstanding coach with a bright future. Matt Porath '04 and Kyle Wise '10 will also stick with Parker as his JV assistants.
A Saint Ignatius legend will return to coach the freshmen gold team.
Mike Sweeney '78, recently inducted into the Saint Ignatius Athletic Hall of Fame for his prowess on the basketball court, will be the head coach of the freshmen gold squad. Sweeney is a proud Saint Ignatius alum who will do an excellent job.
Joining Sweeney on the freshmen gold staff will be two of his classmates – Sean McNally '78 and Brian Carey '78. Both men played for the Wildcats back in the day, and have plenty of basketball knowledge.
The freshmen blue staff will remain the same. Regan Sweeney '11 will be back as the head coach. T.J. DiSanto '06 and Marc Hester will remain as assistant coaches under Sweeney.
"I have a great staff at the JV level, led by Tom Parker. And on the freshmen level, we have Regan Sweeney, who's been here a bit, he wanted to stay on board," Joyce said. "We also brought on his father, Mike Sweeney, who used to coach freshmen here years ago. Mike has been great. His knowledge and wisdom is amazing, you see it every day."
Rounding out the group on the Wildcats' bench is Rev. Paul Shelton, S.J. Affectionately-known as "Padre," Shelton played high school ball and has served as the team chaplain for the last few seasons. He'll remain in his role as a steadying force.
Looking at the staff as a whole, you see a common theme – energy.
Joyce's staff is filled with enthusiastic people who have a zest for basketball and life.
"We have to bring energy. I talk about energy all the time with our guys," Joyce said. "My coaches bring that energy. It can't just be me. Sometimes, the players might not want to hear what I say, so our assistants may be able to reach them differently and more. As an assistant, you may be a guy who's able to help and to take some of that away."
All of Joyce's coaches share another characteristic – all are good men.
Joyce firmly believes that coaching goes far beyond the X's and O's.
"It's always about bringing in not just coaches, but guys who can teach life," Joyce said. "Guys who can teach outside of what happens on the court. At the end of the day, we're coaching these boys into men."