DELANO — After leading Delano to the state championship back in March, boys basketball coach Terry Techam was named the Class AAA Coach of the Year last week by the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association.
True to form, Techam deflected all credit onto his players and assistants, giving special credit to the players who sacrificed in practice despite minute game minutes.
“It means we had a very good team. You don’t get coaching awards unless you have a great team and great assistant coaches. Jason Monke and Jamie Longstreet do an outstanding job year in and year out,” said Techam. “The players deserve all the credit, especially our black team — that is what we call our scout team because they wear the black side of our practice jerseys. Those guys did an amazing job in their roles and had us very prepared for each and every game. They were led by seniors Garret Kramp and Chase Carlson, who did a great job leading this group.”
The coach of the year winners for the other three classes in the state are Rushford-Peterson’s Tom Vix (Class A), Eden Valley-Watkins’ Adam Langer (Class AA), and Robbinsdale Armstrong’s Greg Miller and Forest Lake’s Dan Cremisino, who shared the honor in Class AAAA.
The award is well-deserved for Techam, as the road to the first state championship for a Delano team in 20 years was not always a smooth one.
The Tigers finished with a 21-11 overall record, only because of an 11-2 run over their final 13 games. An injury to Mr. Basketball finalist Calvin Wishart and a stretch where the team went 1-6 pushed the thought of a state title to the back of people’s minds.
The minds of everyone other than the players and coaches, Techam insists.
“The team always believed we were very good. When we had a tough stretch, I reminded them of the fact we were playing awfully good teams and that they were still a very good team, but they didn’t need to hear it from me; they all knew it,” said the coach. “Even when Calvin [Wishart] was out, the team believed in each other, and the expectations were no different. We try not to look too far ahead, so our goal is always to be 1-0 after our next game, and that was the same expectation during sickness, injuries, the section, and state tournament.”
Calvin Wishart, who scored a school record 2,444 points in four seasons playing for Techam, didn’t hesitate in giving Techam credit for the team’s success this season, and throughout the coach’s tenure at Delano. He believes the coach of the year award was long overdue.
“Coach Techam hasn’t changed throughout my four years at Delano, so he should have won it every year, but you see, when we win the state championship, he wins it,” said Wishart. “In other words, it wasn’t just the job he did this year, because he shows the same amount of dedication and passion for the game of basketball every year.”
Techam has been coaching basketball for 29 years, 11 of those years as a head coach at Milaca and Delano. He is 181-81 in nine seasons with the Tigers.
Techam’s dedication to the game and his ability to deal with situations on and off the court are uncanny, according to Wishart.
“I’ve known coach Techam since I was in 4th grade, and his knowledge for the game is unmatched. He is one of, if not, the most dedicated coaches in the state. He stays up late after every game and goes through film for practice the next day. He prepares our scout team before we start practice everyday, and he is at every summer workout and tournament that he is legally allowed to be at. If he was legally allowed to be with us all year round, I know he would be,” said Wishart. “Not to mention, he’s constantly dealing with parents telling him he’s not doing things right; fighting through parents trying to get him fired. For what reason, I will never know or understand, as he is the coach of the year and a state champion.
“Thanks, coach, for everything.”
Proof of Techam’s coaching IQ came in the state championship game against Columbia Heights. Trailing by 13 points at halftime, Techam went to a 1-3-1 defense, which a Delano team hadn’t used in a game in two season and the current team had dedicated very little time to in practice.
“It was just kind of in the back of my head that we were having problems keeping them in front of us and we wanted to pressure them,” Techam told the room of reporters following the championship game. “They were in a pretty good rhythm; we just wanted to take them out of that rhythm.”
Minutes before Techam spoke following the championship game, Columbia Heights coach Willie Braziel pointed directly to that coaching decision by Techam as the game-changer that gave the Tigers the 65-61 win.
“Delano did an outstanding job changing their defense to a 1-3-1. It’s an excellent trap defense,” said Braziel. “It stymied us for awhile, and it didn’t allow us to get the ball in a good position to get decent shots.”
Two months after raising the championship trophy at Target Center, Techam still carries a sense of disbelief.
“I do look back in amazement,” he said. “You see a lot of really good teams who do not win championships for whatever reason, and, for our team to just keep believing in each other and to be playing our best basketball of the season in March was amazing.”
The championship excitement was aided by the community support.
“I wish every person who has participated in high schools sports could experience the welcome home we received after the championship game,” said Techam. “The support of the Delano community was amazing and something that the players and coaches will never forget.”
The community and the players and coaches who made up the 2017-18 Class AAA state champion Delano Tigers boys basketball team will, again, be reminded of the magical season Wednesday, July 4, when the team members ride through the 4th of July Parade as the honorary grand marshals.