Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Lottig new Badger hoops coach
Teacher compiled stellar record at East Troy, reached sectional final

by Mike Ramczyk

July 28, 2011

Geneva Township — After reaching the Division 1 state boys basketball tournament in 2008, the Badger varsity team has put together back-to-back losing records the last two seasons.

But help is on the way thanks to a proven winner with lifelong ties to the area.

Darin Lottig, a gym teacher at Lake Geneva Middle School for the last 17 years, is coming home to take over the Badger boys varsity basketball team after coaching the East Troy boys varsity squad the last eight years. He replaces Tom Dummer, who was the head coach the last two seasons.

A 1989 Big Foot graduate, who now resides in Geneva Township, Lottig has spent his whole life in the area. In the last five years, Lottig compiled a 99-18 overall record at East Troy including 69-3 in conference. In 2008, the Trojans were within one point of the state tournament, falling to Monroe in the sectional final.

Badger Athletic Director Jim Kluge, who hired Lottig back in May, is excited to have Lottig at the helm.

"Badger is fortunate to have Coach Lottig on staff," Kluge said. "He built an outstanding program at East Troy, and we are looking forward to having him running our boys program."

After a rough 3-20 campaign last year, Lottig is hoping to turn things around on the court.

The Regional News caught up with Lottig at his home to discuss why Badger is the perfect fit, the benefits of a good youth program and his plans to return Badger basketball to the promised land.

RN: Why did you want to come to Badger after so much success at East Troy?

DL: I live here. It's where my roots are and where my family is from. My son, Quinten, is going into fourth grade here. It just makes sense. I was surprised it opened up, and I knew it would be a tough decision, but there's more to life than just basketball. What's the difference if we win five championships in a row or I stay and we win six or seven? I did it for all the right reasons. I know it's the best move, and I'm pretty excited about it.

RN: What is your coaching background?

DL: I cut my teeth with (Badger coaching legend) Jerry Stelse when I first started teaching. I was the freshman coach for five years and junior varsity coach for four at Badger. When Jerry retired, I interviewed but Forrest Larson got it. That was a great hire. When Larson got hired, it opened the door for me at East Troy.

RN: Why were you so successful at East Troy?

DL: We had a good youth program. We played high possession basketball, and the kids worked hard in the offseason. Two different times, I've pulled up three freshman to varsity. I like to get them under me as soon as I possibly can. They start learning my expectations, and I don't have bad habits to break. A big part of it is communication.

RN: How will you deal with the challenge of introducing a new system and meshing with the kids?

DL: I teach at the middle school, and I know a lot of the kids already. It's all about learning a new system. It's not better or worse, just different. The key is communicating with kids and getting on the same page. There is no pressure, just excitement. I'm confident everyone will want to go in the same direction. On the flip side, the kids are hungry and sick of losing. Why they lost in the past doesn't matter to me. The glass is half-full. If you want to win these days, you have to put some blood, sweat and tears into the gym.

RN: What is your preferred style of play of offense and defense?

DL: I want to create some tempo and attack teams offensively and defensively. I like high possession, or transition offense. You won't see the swing offense where we grind it out and run two minutes off the clock. We'll do whatever we need to do to be competitive every single night. There might be two passes and we'll shoot a three. We will look for easy opportunities to score. Transition basketball is fun to watch. On defense, we will do everything. If we have the personnel to do it, we'll do it. We can't sit back and let teams dictate how they're going to do things. We will force teams to take shots quicker. With fewer possessions, each turnover hurts you that much more. Kids play looser and more freely with high possession offense.

RN: How has the offseason gone so far?

DL: The kids have been working out four days a week. We've been busy, but there weren't a lot of leagues available this summer. We have gone over expectations, and the kids are trying to adjust. Patience out of everybody is going to be important, with myself at the top of the list.

RN: Are you pleased with the commitment so far?

DL: I'm real pleased with the time in the gym but a little disappointed with the time in the weight room. If we want to compete with Burlington on a regular basis, we have to become more athletic. We have the best facilities in the state and maybe the Midwest. We have the best of everything, and we have to use it. I expect next year at this time that everyone will look like they have been in the weight room for a long time.

RN: What are your goals for this year and the future with the Badger program?

DL: I want to be a real integral part of the youth program. And I'm hoping to get some parents to volunteer coach. I want to be a part of that, it's my first and biggest goal. I want to be here until I'm done teaching, and I'm going to try as hard as I can to make that an option.

RN: Due to the fact that you have taught some of these players, how much will that help on the court?

DL: Any time they know you, more times than not, it works to the advantage of both people involved. I get along with most if not all the kids I have in class, and we have a fun time. Most don't hate my guts. I will have high expectations and high standards for them. The kids want to win. In my first year at East Troy, we were 6-16, and my second year, we were 3-18. We had three freshmen up the second year, and we were in almost all of our games. That 3-18 year was one of my most enjoyable years in my coaching career. You would've thought we were 18-3 the way we were practicing. The win-loss record isn't always indicative of how things are going. But it's good for the community when you're winning. When Badger went to state in 2008, the community was alive. Everyone was excited. That's where we want to get. We want to get back there.