Matt Wright has a trusted ally on the sideline.
The first-year East Peoria boys basketball head coach has known his varsity assistant for years.
Not only is Dave Brown a former head coach himself, he also is Wright's father-in-law.
"We work real close together," said Brown of Wright. "We have similar ideas on how to improve things."
Said Wright of Brown, "He has brought another viewpoint with his years of experience and vast knowledge base to bounce ideas off of."
Brown was a 13-year head coach at Rolling Meadows High School.
Before taking the top basketball post at the Mid-Suburban League school, Brown coached underclass hoops as well as other sports.
His first team in 1989-90 made it to the Illinois High School Association Class AA state quarterfinals, losing to Chicago Gordon Tech, 72-70, to conclude a 28-3 season.
The Mustangs were led by Mike Lipnisky, who torched Gordon Tech for 43 points, one game after scoring 37 in a super-sectional victory over Arlington Heights Hersey.
Rolling Meadows ended the year ranked No. 10 in the Midwest by the Chicago Tribune.
Class AA state champion Chicago King, which defeated Gordon Teach, 65-55 in the final, was rated No. 1 in the nation.
Lipnisky, who was set to go to Northern Illinois University, would have been offered to the University of North Carolina, Brown later learned.
The sharpshooter at one point made 71 consecutive free throws and was the runner-up for Mr. Basketball to Jamie Brandon of King.
On two other occasions, Brown guided Rolling Meadows to a sectional championship game.
Brown's son, D.J., and daughter, Jennifer, graduated from Rolling Meadows in 2001 and 2003, respectively, before playing collegiate basketball.
D.J. went to St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. He now is the boys basketball head coach at Tinley Park High School. Jennifer selected Bradley University.
In 2006, Brown retired early as a history teacher and moved back to the area, which gave him a chance to see his daughter close out her career as a Brave.
He also got to reconnect with a lot of local relatives in central Illinois.
Brown attended Mason City High School, which is now one of the schools that makes up Illini Central.
The basketball program he was part of reached sectional title games his freshman and junior seasons.
Brown said he sees many similarities with the basketball in this area and against what he coached in the northwest suburbs.
"It's been a lot of fun so far," said Brown of his Raider stint. "The players are really trying hard. I told them, 'Your best basketball is ahead of you. Things are going to get better and better.'"
Page 2 of 2 - There is reason for optimism in the near-future for East Peoria.
"The kids have really taken to his coaching and his ideas," said Brown of Wright. "Things are looking good at East Peoria the next few years."
Besides helping Wright implement his offensive and defensive philosophies, Brown also has filled a father-figure role for his son-in-law.
"He's a good role model to the kids in terms of how you need to do things," Wright said of Brown.
The Raider dean of students said it was an easy move to try to get Brown involved. Brown's added perspective is "constant professional development" for Wright.
East Peoria's 13-day hiatus from game action ended Friday when the boys faced host Dunlap.
The Raider coaches took the opportunity to install more offensive and defensive concepts.
With no seniors on the active roster and just one player left who logged significant minutes in 2011-12, the down time was not a bad thing.
"It's almost like a second preseason," said Wright of the gap between the eighth and ninth games of the year. "It's been pretty good."