On March 30, 2007, Black Hawk College tabbed Darren Bizarri to lead its basketball program as head men’s basketball coach. After a very successful inaugural season — which concluded with a 20-12 overall record, 9-3 conference record (second place) and a Region IV runner-up — the Braves upped the ante in 2008-09, posting a 23-8 record. Those two seasons marked a milestone in Black Hawk College basketball history with the Braves posting back-to-back 20-win seasons. The 2009-10 season marked another milestone for the Braves as their 19-13 record meant it was the first time the Black Hawk program had posted three consecutive winning seasons. With a record of 18-15, the 2010-11 season made it four consecutive winning seasons for Coach Bizarri.
“Over the years, we have established how I like to have teams play, which is to get up and down the floor and put pressure on teams both offensively and defensively,” he said. “We know it’s important to be versatile and that construct our roster through recruiting to be able to play different styles.”
Throughout the seasons, one of the hallmarks of a Bizarri-coached team is team balance and sharing the success offensively.
“When we are really effective offensively, it’s because we are balance,” Bizarri said. “Teams can take away one high scorer. It’s much more difficult to stop a team where everyone is a threat and understand that the more we work together offensively and are unselfish, the more everyone succeeds.”
For six seasons before committing to lead the Braves, Bizarri served as the sophomore basketball coach at Western Big Six power Moline High School, compiling a 101-34 record on the sophomore level and assisting the varsity in winning four conference titles and two trips to the state finals.
Before serving the 2000-01 season as a varsity assistant at Rock Island Alleman High School, Bizarri led the Westmer High School basketball program for five seasons. While coaching at the high school and college level, Bizarri also has been active coaching AAU basketball, running the highly successful Illinois Gunner’s program 1998-2004 and coaching in the Quad City Elite AAU program 2013-15.
“I just love coaching kids and watching them improve,” Bizarri said. “High school, college, AAU — the game doesn’t change and the same principles allow you to succeed at any level.”
As a player, Bizarri was a point guard for the Braves for two seasons (1987-88 and 1988-89), serving as team captain and leading the team in assists his sophomore season. He played high school basketball at Rockridge High School, earning All-Conference and All-Area honors as a senior.
After serving on the Black Hawk College coaching staff in the early 1980s for Dr. Ray Olson, longtime basketball junkie Dennis Kerscheiter returned to the Braves in 2013. Kerscheiter and Bizarri served together for five seasons on Frank Dexter’s staff at Moline High School. When Dexter left Moline, Kerscheiter moved to United Township High School and served under Steve Yount for two seasons before coming back to Black Hawk. Although his main focus is on strength and conditioning, Kerscheiter is valuable in pitching in to help wherever needed.
“Dennis is one of those behind the scenes guys that really fills the gaps and helps cement a really good staff,” Bizarri said. “He will help us break down film to help us evaluate our players and will work in the weight room with the guys.”