Last Wednesday evening the Lancaster School Board named Roger Bussan as the next varsity boys’ basketball coach at Lancaster High School, making him the Arrows’ sixth coach in the program’s last 14 seasons.
Bussan replaces Justin Burress, who coached the Flying Arrows for two seasons and compiled an overall record of 13-33. He has since taken a teaching position in his hometown of Sister Bay, WI.
“It was relief and excitement all at the same time,” said Bussan of getting the job. “I am absolutely excited to be the head coach.”
Bussan, a 1996 graduate of Galena High School, has been the owner/operator of Happy Joe’s Pizza and Ice Cream Parlor in Lancaster for 11 years now.
He played football and basketball for the Galena Pirates under coach Syd Sincock, and went on to play both sports at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., a division 3 school playing in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW).
While at Augustana, Bussan studied business, while playing football all four years from 1997 to 2000, and playing basketball his senior year, which was the 1999-2000 season.
“It was one of those deals where I had a lot of coaches telling me that football was my better sport, so I kind of believed them,” explained Bussan. “I got recruited more heavily for football than I did for basketball. Augustana really recruited me heavy for football.”
He was a three-year letter winner in football, and from his tight end position hauled in 10 receptions for 171 yards and two touchdowns in 1999, becoming the team’s second-leading receiver that season.
During his only year on the basketball team, Bussan led coach Grey Giovanine’s Vikings in rebounds with 124, an average of 5.4 boards per game.
The 6’6”, 250-pound center also averaged 6.4 points per game to go along with five total blocks and 12 steals.
Upon graduation, Bussan reunited with Syd Sincock, and coached the freshmen boys’ basketball team at Galena for two seasons.
After getting his business up and running strong in Lancaster, Bussan began feeling the itch to get back into basketball.
It was two years ago when Justin Burress took the head coaching position, that he asked Bussan to coach the freshman boys.
In his first season, Bussan led his team to a record of 15-2, and last year went 10-10.
Playing for two well-known and accomplished coaches, Bussan plans to use what he learned during his playing days and apply it to his coaching.
“I think any coach takes a little bit from this coach, a little bit from that coach, and some of your own stuff and kind of mixes it all together,” Bussan said.
“I learned a ton from ‘Coach G’ as we called him. Counting all my years of experience prior to that, I probably learned more in that one year about systems and about practice and all that good stuff. I plan on implementing that here in Lancaster.”
Though he doesn’t see a lot of differences between his coaching philosophy and that of Burress, Bussan will make a few changes that fans can look forward to.
“The major difference in philosophy will be that we’ll be more of a defensive minded team,” Bussan explained. “We are talented on offense, and there will be a knew system on offense, but it’s going to be an easy one for the kids to learn.”
“Team building, playing for each other, selflessness, being happy for each other’s success, are all huge key elements as far as I’m concerned,” Bussan added. “If we can get that, combined with the talent that we have, when you mix all that together you get something pretty special.”
“I feel like at the varsity level coming up, we have nine guys that can contribute right away.”
One challenge that basketball coaches at Lancaster have had to deal with is following the success of the football program, which usually goes well into November.
“That’s probably one of the largest challenges here in Lancaster, but we had the same thing in Galena, and that’s one thing coach Sincock was able to do. He was able to do both and prove that it can be done. I plan to prove that here in Lancaster too,” Bussan said.
The biggest challenge for Lancaster basketball fans in recent years has been the constant carousel of coaches. All that may change with Bussan.
“I plan to be around a long time,” Bussan said. “My son in seven, and as far as I see it, I’m here for another 10 or 11 years at least. I guess one of my dreams would be to coach my son. That would be great.”
Bussan will now use five coaches’ contact days with his players before the month of July ends, and will have to wait until Nov. 11 to hold his first varsity practice.
Lancaster’s first boys’ basketball game of the 2013-14 season is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 19, when the Flying Arrows host Southwestern.