Growing up playing basketball in the high school hoops heaven of Collinsville, brothers Joe and Brian Muniz no doubt had many memorable 1-on-1 battles in the family backyard.
Later this fall, the Muniz brothers will be mixing it up again — on the sidelines.
A longtime assistant basketball coach at O’Fallon High School, Brian Muniz has been named as the Panthers new head coach, taking over for Rick Gibson who resigned recently after leading O’Fallon to a record of 209-121 in 11 years.
In taking over one of the top programs in southern Illinois over the last decade, Brian Muniz, 39, will join the Southwestern Conference coaching fraternity which includes his older brother, Joe, the head coach at Belleville West.
“I have another brother and we’re all really close. The whole family is,” Brian Muniz said. “It will be fun. Joe and I talk basketball all the time. We don’t really talk about specific teams but we talk basketball.
“I’m just really looking forward to this challenge. I’ve been with these kids all summer and we have several players back with varsity experience. Right now we’re working on some things, seeing what we do well and what we don’t. We’re looking forward to Nov. 7.”
That is the first day of official practice for high school basketball.
Muniz was officially hired last week and O’Fallon Athletic Director Todd Moeller confirmed on Thursday that Muniz, a 1995 graduate of Collinsville, is indeed the Panthers new coach.
Moeller believes Muniz is a good fit for the program.
“Brian brings to us a lot of experience. He’s been here an assistant here for a number of years. He’s been our junior-varsity coach and so he knows our kids, he knows our system and he knows our culture. He’s just a great fit for O’Fallon High School,” Moeller said. “We had a lot applications but I think a lot of those who applied thought there was a teaching position open and that wasn’t the case. And so a lot of people backed out on their applications.
“But Brian was the best candidate of any of the applicants. Him being on staff is very helpful because he knows the other coaches and is familiar with how we do things around here.”
Muniz played high school basketball under Bob Bone at Collinsville but also lettered in both baseball and golf. Muniz then attended Belleville Area College (now Southwestern Illinois College) where he played baseball under Neil Fiala before transferring to and playing baseball at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Ga.
A math teacher at O’Fallon, Muniz has also coached baseball and was an assistant golf coach for eight years before concentrating on basketball. Muniz has been part of the Panthers program which finished second in the Class AA State Tournament in 2007 and fourth in Class 4A in 2010.
Muniz and his coaching staff plan to keep some of the same things in the game plan which have been so successful for O’Fallon in recent years. But the Panthers also plan to have some new looks for this season and beyond.
“Some of what you can do as a coach depends on your personnel. But offensively, I like to get up and down the court and that’s what we’ll try to do,” Muniz said. “On defense, we’ll play some man-to-man but we’ll also play zone. A lot depends on the opposition and what they are doing. You have to be able to adjust.”