At Long Island Lutheran High School, most people know John Buck as a former LuHi student and a math teacher whose energy and passion is loved throughout the school.
After school, they know him as the varsity basketball head coach of one of the most successful programs in New York State.
In his three-year stint as head coach, he has won two state titles while coaching star players such as Jordan Allen, Achraf Yacoubou, and the Connecticut-bound Jamaican sensation, senior Kentan Facey.
In an interview with the coach before his season opener against the Queens School of Teaching, Buck said he didn't imagine himself coaching until his senior season at Wake Forest.
"Before then, I was just focused on playing basketball," he said.
Soon after his graduation from Wake Forest, Buck returned to LuHi and joined the varsity coaching staff. After a couple of years serving as an assistant coach, Buck was promoted after former head coach Brian Carey retired. In his first year leading the team, the Crusaders finished fourth in Class A, and came in fourth in the SNY Invitational.
Two years have passed, and Buck, along with his coaching staff, has a better idea about how to approach the Invitational and its pressure.
"The first time we got in the Invitational, we were so excited, but we might've been a little too hyped up for the first game against Cardozo", Buck admitted. "This year we have a lot of experience. It doesn't take much to fire this team up. They just go out there, and play their game, and do their thing."
The Crusaders do have a good amount of experience, returning six players from last season along with several talented transfers from other elite schools.
Speaking of players, Buck said one reason he coaches is because of the talented and gifted players he works with every year.
"The group of kids is different each year. It's exciting to coach different players from different backgrounds," he said.
Not too many coaches can say they've won two state titles. Very few coaches can say they've won 43 games in a three-year span, and not many coaches can say they've been invited to the SNY Invitational -- twice in three years.
Last time LuHi participated, they were humbled by the Benjamin Cardozo Judges and Boys and Girls Kangaroos. This time, Buck will lead a team that is focused on winning it all. Watch out for the Crusaders at this year's SNY Invitational!