‘Now, We’ve Got a Nationally Recognized Program’
Men’s basketball coach John Baines continues to build on a winning tradition.
As a special way to mark our sesquicentennial celebration, we asked some of our students, faculty, staff and alumni to share their fondest Elmhurst memories, favorite campus stories and hopes for the future of the University.
Something fantastic was happening. In 2020, the Elmhurst University men’s basketball team was having perhaps its best year ever, reaching the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division III Championship. Then, suddenly, the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
“It felt like the stars were aligning,” says Bluejays head coach John Baines, the 2020 Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Division III Co-Coach of the Year. “We were supposed to play Pomona-Pitzer on Saturday. On Thursday, we practiced and watched game film, then I had to call the guys back on Thursday night to say they canceled the NCAA tournament.”
What do you see for the future of the basketball program?
We have the ability to be a top 25 team next year, but there’s more talent in the program to keep that going. That is a mark of a really good program.
What do you remember about your first day at Elmhurst?
I was single and lived in Paul Krohn’s attic. He was our football coach at the time. He charged me $150 a month to live in his attic, and I’m 6-foot-7, so I could only walk through the middle of the attic. It sounds horrible, but it was a wonderful time.
How will you look back at these years at Elmhurst?
I’m really proud of what we’ve done 20 years later. There hadn’t been a lot of tradition here, but I feel like now we’ve got a nationally recognized program. Players like coming here and playing for us. I take a lot of pride in that.
What do you wish everyone knew about Elmhurst?
It is a gorgeous place, but the campus and mall are very insulated in our community. You have to actually come to Elmhurst to get into it. I wish there were billboards out there that said, “Walk on in, you’ll really appreciate it.”