November 30, 2017 by Kyle Heiss , Arizona State University
As of Jan. 13, Rick McConnell could start looking forward to getting to win number 700.
The Mustangs hosted an East Valley Region game against Skyline on that Friday night looking for their sixth win of the season.
The Mustangs completed a comeback after being down nine at halftime by scoring a layup with two seconds left.
That win ended a four-game losing streak giving them their sixth win of the season, but more importantly getting McConnell his 600th career win as a high school basketball coach with all being at Dobson.
“It was a great accomplishment for our teams and the players that have played here in the past, just all the hard work and all the great kids we’ve had here,” McConnell said. “When I got to sit back and think about it, it was really neat.”
The hearts were racing for the players to help their coach reach the 600-win milestone of his career.
“The fans were crazy, the hearts were rushing because there was little time left and we’re just trying to get the win for coach, and celebrate his win,” guard Murvin Gordon said.
Power forward Juhlawnei Stone was just a freshman for varsity during last season’s mile marker victory for McConnell, but Stone says he feels like he was a part of history.
“I feel like I’m a part of history because not many coaches get 600 wins,” Stone said. “So it’s like to be a part of that, I feel blessed.”
The story continues for McConnell, taking it a game at a time and possibly reaching up to 700 wins or more.
“We’ve got to take it one at a time, take it little by little,” McConnell said. “It’s funny we’re starting another season, and we got kids back and we’re ready to go. You just really get thinking about doing one thing and not so far ahead.”
Throughout the years McConnell has had many influences on the way he coaches today, including his father, Dick McConnell, who once was Arizona’s all-time winningest high school basketball coach,and former baseball coach at the University of Arizona, Jerry Kindall.
“When you first start out you’re influenced by who you’ve played for and that kind of stuff and your family,” McConnell said. “I played baseball for the University of Arizona, and Jerry Kindall was really organized, and even though it was a different sport there were a lot of things I think I just picked up.”
A lot of learning and growing occur when you just get into coaching, and McConnell says through his early mistakes he has figured out how to become a better coach.
Some of McConnell’s early confidence as a coach came from being a freshman coach and assistant coach for his father at Sahuaro High School in Tucson.
“It gave me a lot of confidence,” McConnell said. “His style of play and how involved he was and how much our family was involved and how much time he spent that was really crucial.”
Rick McConnell’s father Dick McConnell had a lot of success coaching high school basketball, retiring at Tucson Sahuaro in 2008 with a total of 774 wins and four state championships, but Rick McConnell says he never really shot to match his dad’s success.
“I’ve never really felt that way,” McConnell said. “He had so much success, especially in his last 10-15 years, but it hasn’t been at all that way. It’s more of a fun thing, no rivalry at all.”
Rick McConnell’s success as a high school basketball coach continues with the Mustangs giving him his 604th win Tuesday night against La Joya Community with an 80-57 victory on his road to 700.