Mark Evans, who repositioned the Mercy Academy basketball program as a statewide power and won a Sweet 16 championship in 2010, announced his resignation as head coach Wednesday.
Keith Baisch, who has been the program’s top assistant since the 2000-01 season, will replace Evans as head coach. Evans said he will stay on as Mercy’s athletic director.
Evans, 54, admitted the idea of no longer coaching the basketball squad is “scary.”
“I’ve always been a risk taker, and this is a little risky in my book because I’m going to have to find something else,” he said.
He went 322-173 in 16 seasons as the Jaguars’ head coach, winning three regional championships (2006, 2010, 2013). His 2009-10 squad caught fire in March and won the state title, beating Scott County 71-61 in the championship game.
His 2012-13 team finished 20-11, losing to rival Manual 74-60 in the first round of the Sweet 16.
Evans pointed to three main reasons for stepping down.
First, he said he didn’t want to leave a group of seniors with a new coach. The 2013-14 Mercy squad will not have a senior on the roster.
“I never wanted to leave seniors,” he said. “I thought that would be horrible, and I was agonizing about the day that would happen. And now it’s not going to.”
Evans said he also wants to spend more time with his 17-year-old daughter, Brooke, who is a junior at Mercy and plays field hockey. Finally, he felt it was time for Baisch to get his chance as head coach.
“He deserves this,” Evans said. “He’s perfect for Mercy. He is Mercy. He’s great with the kids, and he’s a hell of a coach. He’s a lot better than me in a lot of ways.”
Evans was an assistant coach under Leslie Scully for the Mercy team that won the state title in 1992. He also coached the slow-pitch softball team to two state titles (1987, 1989) but left the school in the fall of 1992 to become the girls’ basketball coach at Oldham County.
He went 113-47 in five seasons with the Lady Colonels, winning regional titles in 1993 and 1994 behind the play of All-Stater Kyra Elzy. He took the Mercy job in the fall of 1997 and had two losing seasons before turning the program around.
Baisch joined the program in 2000 and formed a dynamic tandem with Evans, as Baisch focused on offense and Evans called the defenses.
“It just seemed to click,” Baisch said.
Baisch attended St. Xavier High School (1993 graduate) and the University of Louisville (1998) and was an assistant women’s basketball coach at U of L for two seasons under co-coaches Martin Clapp and Sara White before heading to Mercy.
Baisch said not much will change with him as head coach, as he still expects the Jaguars to run the triangle offense he introduced to the program and to execute the multiple defenses that Evans used.
“There will be a little pressure there because Mark has probably been the most successful coach in Mercy history,” Baisch said. “And I want to make him happy. He’s leaving a very good program in my hands.”