Replacing an icon is never easy and it took Elmhurst College more than a month to fill its men's basketball head coach vacancy after Mark Scherer announced his retirement.
The Bluejays announced their new coach will be John Baines from the University of St. Francis in Joliet.
Elmhurst athletic director Paul Krohn said the school offered the job to Baines on April 22 and by the next night officials were preparing their official announcement. Baines worked as an assistant coach under Scherer for 10 years during some of the most successful years in school history before getting a coaching job with St. Francis. During Baines' tenure with Elmhurst the school won its only CCIW championship in its winningest season.
While Krohn said Baines and Scherer were very close, their coaching styles show a noticeable difference. Krohn expects Baines to bring an up-tempo style to Elmhurst with explosive offense.
Although the process took a month Krohn said Baines was an early favorite for the position. Much of the reason for the pairing between Elmhurst and Baines was his familiarity. Not only does he have a history with Elmhurst, but Baines played collegiately for CCIW rival Illinois Wesleyan.
Baines also has strong recruiting ties in the area already after his time with St. Francis.
In his first year with St. Francis, he coached the team to a 21-10 record, a 13-game improvement on the previous year. During the three seasons under Baines' tutelage the Saints were 57-38. The Bluejays finished a disappointing 6-19 in Scherer's final season with the team and missed the CCIW playoffs.
Krohn said that Scherer was vital in the process of selecting Baines.
Scherer coached the Bluejays for 17 years.
At St. Francis Baines replaced 34-year coach Pat Sullivan, who won more than 500 games with the Saints. Baines will be the 15th basketball coach in program history for Elmhurst.
The new coach has already hit the ground running. Krohn said that while his first official day on the job won't be until Monday, Baines has already talked with the team, his coaches and started the recruiting process.
In addition to finding the next class of Bluejays players, Baines will need to round out his coaching staff. The team will retain assistant coach Chris Martin, but there may be at least one opening on the staff, Krohn said.