Biancalana leaves York for UIC
Updated: March 22, 2011 4:24PM
Al Biancalana considered being the head coach at York to be the
best high school job possible.
So deciding to leave to become Howard Moore's top assistant coach at the
University of Illinois Chicago wasn't easy.
"It was with a very heavy heart that I made this decision," Biancalana said.
"I went back and forth. I love York and the Elmhurst community. Our players
have been just fantastic and I couldn't have asked for a better situation to
coach in for high school basketball. It is very difficult to move on for
Moore was named UIC's new head coach Aug. 20, replacing Jimmy Collins.
Biancalana resigned from his position at York Monday and broke the news to
"It's a situation that is never easy," Biancalana said. "Not only did I see
myself as a basketball coach, but as a mentor for these young men. We've
become very close, just like with all our groups through the years. I'm
proud of that fact that we were able to get a group of kids excited about
playing basketball and understanding the value of playing together, being
dedicated and sacrificing for the greater good of the team in order to make
the program extremely successful.
"York has wonderful teachers, outstanding coaches and probably the best
administrators I've ever worked for. Principal Diana Smith is the reason I
went to York in the first place. York has no idea how lucky they are to have
a principal like Diana, who cares so much about the kids and the community."
Biancalana took over at York for the 2005-06 season and guided the Dukes to
a regional championship in his first year at the helm and led York to its
first West Suburban Conference Silver Division championship since 1968.
York is coming off an 18-9 season, losing to Lincoln Park 41-38 in the Class
4A Whitney Young Regional semifinal. The Dukes do return senior Will
Sullivan, who is one of the top players in the area.
Before coming to York, Biancalana was an assistant coach at Bradley
University for six years. Bradley is where Biancalana first met Moore,
coaching with him for four years in Peoria.
"Howard Moore is an up-an-coming young man who has a great future,"
Biancalana said. "I'm close enough to him that I understand his commitment,
his approach to the game and how he wants to run the program. It will be an
easy transition for me. UIC is a great place to build a program. It has a
fine academic reputation, proximity to the city and we can get our hands on
a lot of different kids and do wonderful things."
Biancalana has also had high school coaching stints at Stagg and Downers
Grove North and also coached in California.
Returning to the college game was not something Biancalana spent much time
"I never closed any doors, but it was not something I was actively looking
for," Biancalana said. "I'm going to work for a man I truly respect and I
don't have to move my family. It's a nice situation all the way around. I've
had other opportunities and just never felt it was the best situation for me
and my family."
Biancalana starts his new job Friday.
"I'll have a lot of basketball responsibilities and skill development,"
Biancalana said. "I'll be game-planning and on-the-floor coaching. I'll also
be heavily involved with the recruiting process, which is an aspect of the
game I enjoyed while at Bradley. Coach Howard is a young coach and I can
help him grow as a coach. It's just a good situation for me."
Biancalana grew up in Elmwood Park and coached basketball at St. Vincent
while he was attending Elmhurst College.
"Elmwood Park is a special place because so many people are connected to one
another," Biancalana said. "There are so many families that have great
history and tradition. You talk about a family community and it doesn't get
much better than Elmwood Park. I grew up in an environment where everybody
cares about everybody. Your neighbors were extended family members. It was a
great place to grow up."
Biancalana is a 1978 graduate of Holy Cross High School in River Grove,
which is now shut down.
"It was an all boys school and it had a toughness and grittiness to it,"
Biancalana said. "You had to earn everything you got and you had to earn
respect. It was a place that instilled great work ethic in me and traits I
used later on in my life."