Barker set for new boys basketball season

Adam Larck
Senior Sam VanDenAvond makes a lay-up during warm-ups on “Meet the Eagles” night Friday. VanDenAvond is one of two starters returning for the team and averaged 6.1 rebounds per game last year.

Jeff Barker is back and is looking to improve on his previous record at Dunlap.

Barker, who coached the Eagles from 1996-99, is back as the head coach for the team this year.

After the team went 8-18 overall last year (3-11 in the Mid-Illini Conference), Barker is putting back into place a similar system to what he used during his previous coaching stint.

“Defensively, we will be predominately a man-to-man team,” he said. “Our offense will be a motion offense.”

Barker stepped down in ’99 to pursue an administrative degree, ending his first stint at Dunlap with a 33-53 overall record.

After getting his degree, he served as assistant principal for two years at Dunlap High School, then taught and coached basketball at both middle schools.

So far in the preseason, Barker said the team has been working on “every type of fundamental that we’ll need for games.”

“We focused strongly on defense,” he said. “The boys are working hard and showing that they have very good attitudes. We’re moving along.”

Coming back to the Eagles this year is leading scorer Nate Gosnell and leading rebounder Sam VanDenAvond.

Gosnell averaged 9.5 points per game, while VanDenAvond grabbed 6.1 rebounds per game.

“We have one other senior that will definitely see playing time: (Andrew) Angevine,” Barker said. “I appreciate the leadership that the seniors have shown and the commitment the boys have made to the new program here.”

Barker added that some juniors and sophomores will need to step up and make an impact this season.

Dunlap started the season off Tuesday against Freeport at the LaSalle-Peru Cavalier Classic tournament.

The Eagles also play two games Friday and one game Saturday at the tournament.

The first game Friday will be at noon against Rochelle, before playing host LaSalle-Peru at 7:30 p.m.

Dunlap finishes the tournament at 4:30 p.m. Saturday against West Chicago.

The Eagles will then return home on Dec. 1 to take on Morton in the conference opener before welcoming Washington at home Dec. 9.