Kauffman, Drenchko step down at Northeastern
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the resurgent Northeastern boys' basketball team will head into the offseason in search of a new coach. Second-year coach Don Kauffman confirmed Tuesday night that he has decided to step down. The Northeastern athletic department had sent on an email earlier in the day stating it was seeking head coaching applicants for three winter sports: boys' basketball, girls' basketball and wrestling. In addition to Kauffman, Northeastern must replace Mike Drenchko (girls' basketball) and Kyle Poe (wrestling). Of the three departures, Kauffman's might be the most surprising. Under Kauffman, Northeastern had the biggest win-loss improvement of any YAIAA team this season -- from 5-16 in 2009-10 to 18-9. The Bobcats qualified for the state playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. Kauffman chose to step down in large part because he will resume his role as the school's baseball coach. He coached the Bobcats' baseball team from 2004-09, leading it to a Class AA state championship in 2004. Kauffman also said he and his wife are expecting their first child in late May. "I think it's really hard to do two in this day and age," Kauffman said. "Especially with basketball, it's a lot of time. It's year-round. I just kind of made the decision. I wasn't planning on this, it was just kind of a decision that I made after I thought about it." The Northeastern wrestling team went 5-5 this season under Poe, who originally took over the program in 2007. Northeastern went 23-25 in Kauffman's two seasons. The next hire will be a big one for the program -- the Bobcats return their top three scorers from last season, in guard Elijah Cooper and brothers Chris and Khalid Nwandu. "It was a great season," Kauffman said. "I thought the kids worked really hard from last year to this year. They put a lot of time in the offseason. We played summer league, had open gyms. Those kids were committed the whole time. They came to just about everything we did. As the season progressed, we thought we could be very competitive. "I'm sure when it rolls around here, I'm going to miss it. I've been involved with basketball for Northeastern for 14 years. I'm definitely going to miss it. I think the potential that I'm walking away from here is really good." As for Drenchko, he said he was stepping down to spend more time supporting his 9-year-old son Matthew's own athletic pursuits. Drenchko finished with a 95-81 record in seven seasons at Northeastern, including a pair of 20-win seasons in 2007-08 and 2008-09. "My son is getting to an age now where he's doing a lot of travel sports," Drenchko said. "I just wanted to spend some more time being involved in his activities. Probably at some point in his future, as he gets in junior high school age, I'll try to get back into coaching. "The seven years I spent as head coach with the girls, I just always had really good kids to work with who were hard workers. It was more what they bought to the table than what I bought to the table." Drenchko said he decided near the beginning of this season that it would be his last on the bench. "By the beginning of the season, I had pretty much made up my mind," Drenchko said.