By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Marlo Finner is the new head basketball coach of Kenwood Academy High School. Finner replaced coach Jim Maley, who was terminated from the position, amidst parent protest, in March.
Finner became head basketball coach at Kenwood, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., on April 24. Before coming to Kenwood, Finner was the head varsity boys basketball coach at University of Chicago Laboratory School. Prior to that he was the assistant varsity boys basketball coach at Simeon, Waukegan and Morgan Park high schools.
Finner’s previous coaching accomplishments include leading the Simeon boys basketball team to multiple Illinois High School Association 4A Championships, leading his Waukegan team to the Freshmen City Championships and his Morgan Park team to the Chicago Public Schools Semi-finals. Finner also received the Independent Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year award.
Finner said he is bringing in his own coaching team, which includes assistant coaches Tony Austin, Steven Parham and Courtney Horford.
Finner said he wants to first work with the basketball team on “mental toughness, skill development and strength training.”
Since Kenwood Principal Greg Jones announced that the school wanted to go in a new direction with its basketball, team parents have been debating whether bringing a new coach to the school was in the best interest of the players. One group of parents wanted a coach that would lead the team to more wins and help the players get more college basketball scholarship offers. Another group of parents praised Maley for his tenacious focus on making sure each player had high grades and they were concerned that the new coach might place winning games over academic success.
Finner said the parents’ concerns about academic excellence as well as athletic development went well with his personal philosophy.
“I believe that every kid whether they attend Kenwood, Simeon, [Whitney] Young deserve the opportunity to excel,” Finner said. “I know that I will be a coach, mentor and to some a father figure and that basketball is just a piece of what I do.”
Finner said, “I played high school and college ball and I am thankful for those who helped me make it through.” He said the players will have mandatory study hall and random grade checks.
He said he hasn’t yet been told what his additional responsibilities will be at the school, but he will be inside the school full time and plans to use some of that time working with teachers to make sure the team members are making good grades.