After nearly a decade building up to the best stretch of success the Denison girls basketball program has produced, Rod Been made the decision to step away from coaching.
Been, who also served as the girls athletics coordinator, spent eight years at the front of the bench and compiled a 115-132 record in that span, including a current run of four straight playoff appearances, two region quarterfinal berths and a district title.
“I’ve decided to pursue other business opportunities,” said Been, who spent 17 years in the profession and all but the first two were as a head coach. “I value my time at Denison greatly and have all the respect for Chad Rogers and the organization he has built there. Chad knew this was coming. I wish everyone there a great deal of success.”
He was the first hire when Rogers took over as Denison athletic director and head football coach in the spring of 2012, in charge of over a program without a winning record in six years. By his fifth season, the program had been completely turned around.
There was little time wasted in finding a successor. Assistant coach Brock Giles has been elevated to lead the program and continue the foundation laid by Been.
“What he’s done at Denison in eight years is amazing. I’m walking into a great situation, a great culture,” Giles said. “There won’t be any significant changes. Coach Been and I have a similar coaching style. Our mindset was similar. There’s really no reason to change something that isn’t broken.”
The 26-year-old Giles has spent one season at Denison with previous stops as a head coach at Bland and Avery, where he also served as a cross-country head coach in both places — including leading Bland to the state meet twice and having an individual state qualifier at Avery.
“From the beginning he always showed a lot of trust in me,” Giles said. “This is a very special place and I could tell that in the year I’ve been here. Having built the relationships already is a tremendous value to what we want to do next season.”
He made the playoffs in his first year at Bland, ending a four-year playoff drought, by going 18-14 and placing fourth in district before losing in the bi-district round against eventual state champion Martin’s Mill. The Lady Tigers then took a step back in 2018-19.
In his lone year at Avery for the 2016-17 season right out of college, the Lady Bulldogs finished fifth in the district standings and were one spot out of the postseason after winning just one game prior to his arrival.
“He’s got head coach experience and the thing I like the most about him is he has the base of a small school,” Been said. “When you’re in a small school, you’re involved with everything down the third, fourth and fifth grades. That’s going to serve him well. He’ll do a great job.”
Giles played for two seasons at Morningside College in Iowa after a standout career at Saltillo, where he earned district MVP honors as a senior after being the Offensive Player of the Year as a junior and Newcomer of the Year as a sophomore at Avery before transferring. He was a three-time all-region selection and averaged 21.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists as a senior.
Giles played for his father, Bill, who is currently the head girls basketball coach and athletic director for Saltillo.
“Playing for my dad, that was a big influence on me going into this profession. My mom’s an educator as well,” Giles said. “I grew up around this my whole life.”
Been steps down as the Lady Jackets are in the middle of their most successful run in program history.
This past season Denison went 20-16 and reached the region quarterfinals for the second time in three seasons — which are the only two appearances by DHS in the third round. It was the Lady Jackets’ fourth consecutive playoff berth and fourth straight 20-win season, a pair of feats which had never been done at DHS.
Defense was Denison’s calling card as it held 29 of 46 opponents under 45 points and goes into next season with a similar-looking district — 10-5A will consist of Sherman, Wylie East, Lovejoy, McKinney North, Princeton, Prosper Rock Hill and The Colony — and a roster that lost just two players, four-year starter and district Defensive Player of the Year Taryn Gaines and point guard and first-team all-district pick Maliyah Butler.
The returning nucleus consists of first-team all-district selection Jade Fry, who will be a junior, and rising sophomores Camryn Nixon and Jada Mathews, who were both honorable mention all-district choices.
Been brought stability to a program in dire need of a steady hand. After setting a then-school record with 26 wins and a third-straight playoff appearance during the 2005-06 campaign, Denison would go a decade without a winning record and had four coaches in the four seasons before Been arrived from Gruver, where he spent seven seasons as the head coach with five region quarterfinal berths.
“If you look at the eight years as a whole, it’s all about relationships. There’s still girls from the first years we still keep in contact with,” Been said. “The name of the game has been consistency. Without consistency, it can be tough to buy in and work hard. There’s going to be a real trust factor between the varsity girls and Coach Giles.”
His eight seasons are bisected neatly — in his first four years Denison had a losing record with the best campaign being an 8-21 mark in 2014-15 and the last four have been among the best in school history.
Included in that is the topper, which was the 2017-18 season when the Lady Jackets went 31-5, setting the school's single-season win mark, earning the program’s second district title — first since 1990 — that was the first outright district crown and reaching the region quarterfinals for the first time.
It was sandwiched by a 21-12 record and bi-district loss in 2018-19 and a 21-11 and area round appearance in 2016-17 that was a 14-win increase and kicked off the run.
The move also means openings at a basketball assistant and girls head cross country coach because those roles were held by his wife, Mica. The cross-country Lady Jackets qualified for the regional meet in 2018 with a third-place district finish in 10-5A.
Mica Been has taken a teaching position back at Gruver and will be joined there by their son, Anders, who was a sophomore on the varsity football and basketball teams for Denison this past school year.
“Our whole family is back in the Panhandle,” Rod Been said. “It’s a family move that will be good for everyone.”