Rick Dunn finally gets his chance to move over one seat on the Perryville boys basketball bench.
The long time assistant coach will take over the Perryville boys basketball head coaching position this season. He replaces the departed Dustin Wengert.
“It’s been my goal to be the head coach of the Perryville program for quite some time,” Dunn said. “I played here, I’ve taught and coached here for a number of years. I want to try to build that foundation of success for the boys program and bring it back to where Pirate basketball should be and make it something that the community can be proud of.”
Dunn is familiar with the first seat on the bench as he coached the final game of the season last year in the Class 4, District 1 tournament, a loss to Sikeston.
“Any coaching experience helps,” Dunn said. “But going into that game, I just wanted to approach it with the right mindset and lead the guys to compete at the right level. That experience last year helped fuel that fire even more to want to be the coach.”
Dunn played four years in the Perryville program and is a member of the 1,000 point club.
After that, Dunn was an assistant for eight seasons, starting in 2012, where he served under three head coaches (Joel Roth, Justin Dreyer, Dustin Wengert)
Dunn believes that the extended stay within the Perryville program helps him as he adjusts to the players in his new role.
“Being in the program for as many years as I have, I know the kids and what they have been taught, and I have a good idea of their strengths and weaknesses. It helps us to hit the ground running, not to be making any major changes to the preparation because it always feels like we have less time to prepare for game one, especially this season.”
Dunn feels like he has learned a lot from the three coaches he as been under in the past.
From Roth’s strategy with X’s and O’s and understanding ways to attack defenses to Wengert’s 2-3 matchup zone, and Dreyer’s ability to cater the offensive and defensive schemes to the ability of his players. Dunn plans on taking bits and pieces of those philosophies as his own, but he wants to be known for one other thing as well.
“I want to be the coach that when teams look on their schedule and see Perryville, that they know that they will be in for a fight,” Dunn said. “My guys will always play hard. We may not shoot well one night or perform well, but we will compete.”
Dunn will take over a program that hasn’t seen much success in recent years.
That’s not unfamiliar to Dunn, who as a player did not have a winning record until his senior year when the team won 16 games. Dunn noted that during the season his Pirates scored 70 points and played with a Notre Dame squad that eventually went to the final four.
“I know what it’s like to be in these kids’ shoes,” Dunn said. “I know what it’s like to turn it around as well. I hope to be a part of that here.”
The Pirates won just four games last season, but to instill that winning attitude Dunn, believes his players must first believe in themselves.
“It’s really hard to think your going to win, when you haven’t,” Dunn said. “The guys have to develop that belief that they are good enough to beat teams on any given night. When they believe, the effort will follow, and when you have that effort good things will happen. We are trying to build that up in practice with competition every day, but they won’t start to believe until they see the results during games. That’s where we are trying to get every day.”
Perryville’s first game is on Nov. 30 in the Woodland Tournament, where the Pirates will face off with the host Cardinals.
“I imagine that I will have some nerves and some butterflies in my stomach, but I’m more excited than anything else,” Dunn said. “It will be something special to look back on.”