Roosevelt’s Derris Buus is resigning after two years as head boys basketball coach. Buus, who met with the team on Thursday afternoon, said he’s stepping down to spend more time with his family.
Buus, a Winner native, is going back home and will continue teaching.
“I put my heart and soul into everything that I do,” Buus said, “and you know, I just felt that I was probably not spending enough time with my family. Basketball is very important to me and for my family, and will still always be, but I just needed to look at my priorities right now and spend time with my two youngest kids.
Buus helped lead Roosevelt to the state tournament last season. The Riders fell to city rival O’Gorman in the consolation championship, good for a sixth-place finish. Buus’ Riders finished the season 13-13, bringing his two-year record with the Riders to 25-24. In Buus’ first season, the Riders finished 12-11 and a game short of state with a loss in the region bracket.
“It’s a big loss — for Roosevelt High School and for our kids,” Roosevelt athletic director Casey Meile said. “Our kids loved Derris. … He has a real energy and kids gravitate to him. We have a tremendous amount of respect for him and what he’s done with our program in the short amount of time he’s been here.”
Prior to joining Roosevelt, Buus coached Rapid City Stevens for two seasons. Buus led the Raiders to their first state tournament appearance in seven years in 2013, finishing seventh, before taking fourth in 2014 on a team that went 7-1 during the regular season against a loaded Sioux Falls field.
“The whole mindset taking over out there was to hopefully change the way that they played the game — you’ve got to play the style they play over here [in Sioux Falls] in order to beat teams over here,” Buus said.
Buus inherited a Roosevelt team that had just moved on from several senior contributors. Previous Coach Lee Taylor, who departed in 2014 to become assistant athletic director at Augustana, led the Riders to a third-place finish in ’13 and a state title in ’14. Combined those teams went 45-5 in Taylor’s last two years.
“There’s going to be some building to do,” Buus told the Argus Leader in Dec. 2014. “But once we get a handle on the system and grasp our new roles, I expect us to compete with anyone.”
Down the stretch this season, Roosevelt posted single-digit losses to O’Gorman (twice), as well as state runner-up Washington and eventual state champion Lincoln. In the District 1AA opener, Roosevelt defeated 15-5 Watertown on the road.
“He’s a tremendous mentor and leader,” Meile said, “and he’s left our basketball program in a very good state. Someone is going to be taking over a really good basketball program.”
To that end, the Riders already have an impressive candidate in-house. Assistant coach Mitch Begeman, a standout at O’Gorman and later the University of South Dakota, will get a hard look at the vacant position.
“Mitch is someone we’re very thankful to have on our staff,” Meile said. “He brings a lot of really good qualities to Roosevelt and is an excellent teacher in the school district. He’s going to be one that we take a really good look at. He’s going to get a shot at this position.”
Buus agreed, giving a nod to his entire assistant staff and Begeman in particular.
“Mitch did a great job the last couple of years as an assistant. Hopefully he’s learned some things from me – I’ve learned some things from him as well,” Buus said. “I think Mitch should be looked at. I’d highly encourage that. … He understands the game, and he has a good rapport with the kids. I think he’d be a great asset to that position.”
Buus said that Thursday was difficult at times, but added that he’s appreciated his time at Roosevelt.
“Basketball is basketball. It’s one of the most popular sports around, but there’s a good way and a bad way of playing it,” Buus said. “I felt like these guys really played it right. … I’ve had a great experience here. I’ve truly felt like a part of the community, the Roosevelt community.”
Meile and the Riders have been through similar situations in recent years. The girls team took to the court last season with their third coach in as many years. Chris Clark resigned in 2014 and was replaced that May by program legend Holly (Sivesind) Borchers, a Rough Rider standout who graduated in 1992 and later started four years at Creighton. When Borchers stepped down following last season, Roosevelt brought in David Maxwell — once a star player at Parkston and USF.
Maxwell’s Riders took the long road to state this season and nearly upset eventual champion Aberdeen Central in the first round of the Class AA state tourney.
Follow reporter David Nicholson on Twitter @Nicholson_Dave.