Tavares hires Zach Anspach as new boys hoops coach
Zach Anspach expects to win at Tavares High School.
The Bulldogs new boys basketball coach has been part of winning prep programs as an assistant coach at Tallahassee Godby, Leesburg and Orlando Dr. Phillips.
When he met with returning players at Tavares on Monday, Anspach mapped out his plans to turn the Bulldogs into one of the area’s top programs. Anspach was named Bulldogs coach in late May, replacing Bryan Glass, who left following last season.
This will be his first shot at being a head coach.
“I can’t wait to get started at Tavares,” Anspach said. “I loved my time in Lake County when I was at Leesburg (for the 2012-13 season) under Marcel Thomas. I really missed the small-town atmosphere when I was at Dr. Philips, so when the Tavares job opened up I jumped at the opportunity. This is my first head coaching job, but I’ve coached a lot of high-caliber practices at the programs I’ve been associated with, and I want to bring that to Tavares.”
Tavares Athletic Director Greg Raczkowski said the school’s hiring committee was sold on Anspach’s philosphy of building a program and instilling what it takes to be successful on and off the court.
“(Anspach) was very organized and had a plan in place to hit the ground running,” Raczkowski said. “His principles and ideals regarding discipline, emphasis of academics and holding students accountable were highlights that made us believe coach Anspach was the right person for the job. After we spoke with (Dr. Phillips head coach Anthony Long), who is one of the most well-respected and successful coaches in central Florida, who endorsed Zach 100 percent for the job, we were extremely excited to offer him job and even more excited when he accepted it.
“We believe he can make Tavares a school that competes for district titles every year.”
Anspach said he learned something from each head coach he worked under and plans to bring those techniques with him to Tavares. In fact, Anspach is quick to point out that each of the head coaches during his coaching career — Andy Colville at Godby, Thomas, and Long — took teams to The Lakeland Center to play in the Florida High School Athletic Association Final Four.
“I’ve been lucky to coach for some very talented men,” Anspach said. “I really learned a lot in my one season at Leesburg. (Thomas) let me run practices from time-to-time, which taught me a lot about coaching. He ran a quality program at Leesburg. That’s my goal at Tavares. It’s going to take a little time, but I’m a young coach and I plan to be here for awhile.
“We’re going to create something here that will be very special.”
Anspach said he favors a fastbreak offense that is predicated on defense and energy. He is a fan of Shaka Smart, the former Virginia Commonwealth coach who was recently hired at Alabama.
“I like doing things on the basketball court that will make the opposition uncomfortable,” Anspach said.
Anspach said he also favors the philosophical approach to the game that legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson fostered.
In addition, he will use a “Moneyball” approach that has been made famous by Oakland Athletics’ General Manager Billy Beane, who used statistics to find players for his team. That has helped the Athletics — a small-marked team — be competitive with big-budget franchises like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
“I’m big on statistics and using them,” Anspach said. “At first, the kids might not understand everything, but they’ll learn. It’s a matter of putting players in situations they perform best in. It does work, especially when you have young players or a group that is still learning your system.
“You’re setting your players up to succeed.”
For now, though, Anspach said he will concentrate on getting his team up to speed with his system. Players will come together next week to begin offseason workouts, and Anspach said he expects to play in a number of summer tournaments.
Once the season begins, Anspach said he hopes other teams will recognize the Bulldogs as a hard-working team while the foundation for his system is put into place. He stressed that Tavares will not be outworked by anyone when the game begins.
He also wants to re-establish rivalries with local teams and eventually use his contacts to schedule home games against some of the powerhouse schools in Orlando.
“I don’t think Tavares has beaten Eustis in many years,” Anspach said. “We’re going to try and change that. The same goes for playing Leesburg and other schools in Lake County. In Orlando, there was so much to do — Universal Studios was across the street from Dr. Phillips — and it was hard to get the community excited about high-school basketball.
“Things aren’t going to happen overnight. It’s a process, but I want to get Tavares excited about our basketball program. I want fans to show their support by packing the gym on game nights so that our kids can feed off that energy.”