Mike Webb spent 15 seasons as the head basketball coach at John Bapst High School in Bangor after a two-year stint as the head coach of the Hampden Academy girls.
This season, He is serving as an assistant coach for the Orono High School girls and he said he is enjoying himself.
Webb is working with the legendary John Donato, who brought a career record of 547-219 into this first season as the Orono boss.
Donato had coached girls teams at five Maine high schools and has five state championships and 11 regional titles on his resume.
Orono is 5-10 with noteworthy upset victories over John Bapst, which was second in the Class B North Heal points standings entering Tuesday’s games, and No. 9 Ellsworth. The Riots have also had some competitive losses to contenders: losing to John Bapst by three points earlier this season, No. 3 Mount Desert Island by nine, No. 5 Presque Isle by four and No. 7 Winslow by 10.
Orono upended John Bapst 43-34 on Tuesday and that put the Riots in good position to earn a spot in the preliminary round of the B North tourney.
They have held 11 opponents to 51 points or less.
“It has been a lot of fun,” said the 56-year-old Webb. “The kids are great at Orono. They really want to learn and get better. They work as hard as any team I’ve ever been around.
“And it has been very interesting working with coach Donato: How he goes about his practices and his preparation for games,” added Webb. “It has been a learning experience, believe it or not.You never stop learning.
One of the things he has learned from Donato is to “keep things simple.
“Sometimes, as head coaches, we try to do too much,” said Webb. “We put in too many offenses or too many defenses.
“I think it is a lot simpler game than we make it,” added Webb.
He said Donato’s drills are valuable in that they, “replicate what you do in games.”
He said the Riots “don’t have a ton of offensive weapons but we try to play very good defense and get high-percentage shots. The team is progressing.”
Orono has been held to 40 points or less 10 times.
Webb has done a lot of scouting which is something he used to do as a head coach, also.
“I enjoy scouting … watching other coaches and how different teams play,” he said. “The better your team is prepared, the better chance they have (to win). That’s a huge part of coaching.”
Webb said Donato places trust in his assistants and listens to their suggestions.
Webb said he has been blessed to have some very capable assistants when he was a head coach, including Dave Paul, Bobby Campbell, Harold Williams and Dennis Whitney.
He admitted that he was disappointed that he wasn’t rehired by John Bapst and is hoping to get a head coaching job in the future.
“I feel I still have something to give back to the game,” said Webb. “I love coaching the game of basketball. And I had some very good training before I became a head coach by being a referee for 20 years. I had a chance to sit down and chat for hours with coaches like Jim DiFrederico, [the late] Gerry Duffy, Bob Cimbollek and the late Ronnie Brown.
I learned a lot from those guys,” said Webb.
He said if he doesn’t land a head coaching job, he would love to return to Orono as an assistant next year.
There is one definite benefit to being an assistant coach, he said.
“I’ve been getting a lot more sleep this season,” chuckled Webb.