DEPUE — When Jim Barto needed to find a girls' basketball coach at DePue High School he had only one direction to go this year. He called his own number.
He is stepping out of his office as athletic director and/dean of students to take over the girls' basketball program, replacing former coach Heath Terando, who left to become freshmen girls' coach at Princeton this year.
"I told them I would do it for this year so they could search to find somebody qualified," said Barto, who last coached on the DePue boys' basketball staff under former head coach Jim Vipond and previously coached freshmen boys' basketball at Hall and football when DePue co-oped with LaMoille.
The Lady Little Giants roster consists of three seniors, four sophomores and five freshmen. Barto calls it a good core of 12 girls.
Seniors Alicia Marquez and Amalia Lopez are the only two returning players, now in their fourth season in the program. Classmate Berenice Quintana joins the Lady Giant program, a newcomer, who previously played at Streator.
After that, it's all underclassmen, including four sophomores — Angelica Moreno, Mercedes Ruiz, Jocelyn Salazar and Lindsey Werkau, who Barto said all have a year under their belt.
Barto said his team has a willingness to learn, a willingness to listen and a willingness to hustle. The Lady Giants' coach said he has been concentrating a lot on fundamentals and working on their offense.
"They're learning a little bit more of philosophies of where the players are on the four and where they're supposed to go and what they're jobs are," Barto said. "I want them to be able to focus being able to play them rather than worrying about playing and having fun doing it, and not think too much about it."
"Hopefully, we'll have some success and the wins will come."