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Baumann new C-I boys' assistant basketball coach

November 19, 2012
Cambridge-Isanti Basketball

Cambridge-Isanti Activities Director Mark Solberg announced that Bill Baumann, former head boys’ basketball coach at North Branch, will be the Bluejackets’ assistant boys’ basketball coach for the 2012-13 season.

This assistant position became open when Jim Poppen resigned. Poppen had been a successful assistant coach for the past 10 years. His son, Jonah, went through the Jacket basketball program and graduated last year, which caused Poppen to consider other options. He will coach the boys’ and girls’ Cambridge Middle School teams this winter, which, he feels, is a less demanding assignment.


McDonald and Baumann in the past 25 years have been on opposite sides of the basketball court. Through the ‘90s, the Vikings and Jackets were bitter rivals, but during the past 10 years the rivalry between C-I and North Branch have become much more friendly, and a great respect developed.

In considering Baumann for the position, McDonald stated that in preparing for upcoming games, it was much more difficult to prepare his Jackets for the North Branch games than any other opponent. According to McDonald, having Baumann as his assistant coach will cause the same difficulty for their opposing teams.

When McDonald called Baumann to see if he would be interested in becoming his assistant coach, Baumann’s first reaction was, “Are you serious?” Of course, McDonald was. His son Rhett, who was named as the new Duluth East basketball coach, also felt Baumann would be a good fit for the C-I program.

Since retiring at North Branch in 2010, Baumann still felt a strong desire to continue as a coach in some way. In the past two years, Baumann helped coach Rush City, and he felt coming to C-I was a good opportunity for him to get a little deeper coaching position.

McDonald and Baumann met a couple times to talk over the situation. Baumann wanted to know more about the team’s attitude as well as how many players would be returning this year.

McDonald positively noted that this year’s Jacket team had an excellent attitude and although losing four seniors, had six of the top nine players returning. He also told Baumann he wanted to blend both styles of basketball when possible, and McDonald felt they would complement one another well. He especially wanted to use Baumanns’ matching zone defense.

Baumann, still feeling the fire inside to get back into coaching, felt the opportunity was too good to pass up.

Baumann was asked to speak to the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association Clinic about his offensive and defensive styles of coaching. Many coaches throughout the state and North Branch‘s former opponents asked him to write a book about his theories, which he did. McDonald has a copy of that book.

Both coaches have similar records. Baumann has won 414 games while McDonald has posted 383 triumphs. The total wins between the two coaches is 794.

McDonald jokingly said that his total was “no way close” to his dad’s record at Chisholm. The elder McDonald, Bob, has 985 wins over 56 years of coaching and has the state’s top winning record.

Coach McDonald, now in his 26th year as head coach, has won five conference champions and has taken the Jackets to two state tournaments. McDonald had coached a team that won a state championship in South Dakota before coming to C-I.

Baumann has won six conference titles and has also led two Viking teams to the state tournament.

With Baumann’s joining the Jacket coaching staff, McDonald said, “This is an opportunity to have a wealth of experience coaching the Jackets. It’s a huge plus for our basketball program.”

Also joining the basketball coaching staff this year is Jeff Salo, who will be the JV coach. McDonald‘s first assistant coach at Cambridge-Isanti was Bob Salo, Jeff’s dad, thus making a full circle for the Salo coaches at C-I.

Jim Lutterman will be the ninth-grade coach.

Practice starts on Nov. 19. C-I will play St. Francis in the season’s opener on Dec. 1.

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