Norman boys basketball coach resigns; next in line will be under pressure to produce
Sometimes things just don’t turn out like most would expect.
Norman boys basketball coach Wes Clark resigned after eight seasons as the Tigers’ coach, ending a third tenure that further exemplifies what a job Doug Tolin did in his six seasons as coach.
Since Tolin left the Norman program following the 2000 season, Norman has not had near the success in boys basketball. Tolin, who is in his 10th season as Oklahoma Baptist’s men’s coach, took four teams to the state tournament. Remarkably, half of his Norman teams advanced to the state championship game (1996, 1999 and 2000), winning it all in 1999.
In the immediate two seasons after Tolin left, Norman had two coaches (Steve Hudson and Mark Vancuren) last just one season each. That’s when Clark was hired. And, given that he was an assistant for Tolin, many thought the program would get back on track.
Clark, who has been coaching high school for 14 seasons as an assistant and head coach, never duplicated Tolin’s success. It’s more of a testament to Tolin than it is a detraction of Clark. However, the program has a rich history, one that has been a distant memory for quite a while now.
When Sherri Coale was the Norman girls coach she used to say “With great responsibility comes great expectations.” That’s the case when you sign on to lead a program with a bunch of banners on the ceiling and trophies in the hallway.
Norman was 5-17 this season and lost to Southmoore in the opening round of regional play. Losing seasons and early playoff exits have unfortunately become all too common for the Tiger boys. Meanwhile, the Norman girls have made it to five straight state tournaments and will almost certainly make it six later this week.
Clark’s assistants and potential replacements are Mark Webb and Gary Harper, both of whom are former Norman players. Harper played in the 1970s, while Webb was a senior on Tolin’s 1996 squad that played for the Class 6A title. Whether one of them get the nod or if NHS hires from outside, a rebuilding job is at hand.
Whoever takes the job had better take that aspect seriously, because parents won’t have patience for continued losing campaigns. Coaches from Chet Bryan to Max Marquardt to Tony Robinson to Paul Meuser all had great success guiding the Norman boys. And Tolin did so even after the school district split, which eliminates that as an excuse.
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