“You want to get one” is what Bob Paul said Tuesday night. That’s the easy part. Taking over a varsity-level high school basketball program is harder. Taking the reins when your predecessor had been at the school for over 40 years and been the top guy at the program for 25 of them is even harder. Add in the fact that it was Jim Quinn, your mentor and a guy you spent years under as his assistant and well, you get the idea.
“You don’t want to be ‘that’ guy, however, they don’t change coaches here that often, so I figured this was probably my only chance,” said Paul who was named the head of the Chaminade varsity basketball team for the 2012-13 season.
But why would Paul, who also teaches at the all-boys Catholic high school, give up his opportunities at Iona College and even after getting an invite to the dance in 2012?
“I really thought that this opportunity here to coach here and to teach here, it was the best opportunity for me,” he said. “Do I miss college? Absolutely, there’s nothing like going to the NCAA tournament. However, being able to spend time to spend with my children and getting home at a decent hour also matters.”
A member of the Flyer class of 1992, Paul also spent nine years as an assistant under Quinn, learning at the feet of the master before leaving in 2008 to head up the Gaels’ program.
“You learn from a legend every single day,” Paul said of Quinn.
That hasn’t stopped him from taking other members of his family along for the ride either as his brother Tom Paul will also be an assistant on the team alongside veteran Dan Feeney. The younger Paul previously worked with the Flyer freshman and JV squads.
While zone was a hallmark of Quinn’s latter Flyers teams, Paul says that he is looking to be more “multi-dimensional,” speaking as to try to strike the delicate balance between keeping tradition intact but attempting to separate himself from his mentor’s shadow.
“I’m a fan of trying different things and doing different things. I really think… that if you stay in the same style all the time, eventually it turns out to beat you,” he said. “The teams that adjust best I feel have the best chance to give their kids a chance to win every time out.”
Chaminade will have a veteran senior class presence this year, but due to injuries and the championship football season, will spend the first half against non-league opponents without key players. Guard Tom Ahern is expected to return by this weekend, but Tim O’Brien will be sidelined until January with a torn ACL, similar to Jon Patterson’s situation last year. Meanwhile the Walsh twins – having helped the Flyers to take the football crown this year – have to have five practices under their belt before stepping onto the court. Mike –the 6’6” forward who clocks time at center, is expected to play Saturday, but Sean will be out for two weeks having suffered an ankle injury late in the football championship against St. Anthony’s.
“We’ll really need him, he’s going to really help us, big body, can really see the floor, basketball IQ is through the roof,” Paul said of the former.
That still doesn’t preclude having the opening night jitters.
“A lot of it is nerves in the beginning of the game and that’s why we missed a couple easy ones, a couple layups here and there,” Paul said. “We just got stop after stop after stop. It’s a lot easier to score that way rather than taking the ball out, pass it up, walk it up. Going forward I just hope that we can continue to play that way, get the cobwebs out a little bit.”
A 64-40 drubbing of Commack with a 9-2 run over the first 5:50 of the game and having Mike Peck feed Liam Murphy in the third almost putting up an alley-oop can hardly be considered as having dust in the rafters of the Chaminade AAC.
“We need our seniors to really be able to lead and show the underclassmen what it’s like to go through the rigors of what it’s like to play a varsity basketball season and to play in the Catholic league,” Paul would say. “I need the juniors to compete on an every single day level with the seniors to keep them sharp and also be ready when it’s their turn.”
Because right now, it’s Paul’s team.1 2 3 4 F Commack 6 9 11 14 40 Chaminade 15 6 19 24 64
Chaminade Scoring Statistics Player Position FGs 3PTs FTs Points Assts Rebs Jon Patterson Forward 7 0 2 16 0 5 Liam Murphy Guard 4 1 1 12 8 2 Jack Carrigan Forward 3 0 2 10 1 6 Thomas O’Connell Guard 3 1 0 9 4 2 Brian Ehrhardt Guard 3 0 0 6 1 3 Kyle Lynch Forward 2 0 0 4 0 0 Liam Reuter Guard 0 1 0 3 0 0 James McCullagh Forward 1 0 0 2 0 3