Clarion men’s basketball looks to bounce back with young roster

How do you replace a coach who spent nearly three decades at a school and holds the school record for most wins?

Answer: You don’t. You start your own legacy.

That’s exactly what first year men’s basketball head coach Marcess Williams will try to accomplish.

Williams, who was hired just over a month ago, has stepped in for Ron Righter who was at the helm of Golden Eagles basketball for the past 26 seasons.

Williams brings a certain kind of energy and enthusiam that fits perfectly with this up-tempo offensive scheme that he brings from Penn State-Beaver.

“We want to play at a fast pace for 40 minutes,” Williams said. “We want to make the other teams go 90 feet for 40 minutes. The faster we can play, the more we can neutralize other teams’ size and utilize our quickness.”

In his limited time on campus, Williams has whipped his team into shape to the tune of 6 a.m. practices and loads of conditioning drills.

Williams is trying to get the most out of a team that was picked ninth in the PSAC-West pre-season predictions.

There are only two returning starters this season in last year’s PSAC Freshman of the Year B.J. Andrews and junior Aaron Johnson.Bball

The rest of the roster is made up of five freshmen, two transfers in juniors Kyheim Hall and Beau Samuelson and four players with limited playing action.

The biggest acquiston to the season comes in the form of a player who was already on the roster from last season.

Junior Darius Stevens played in six games with four starts before an injury kept him out the remainder of the season.

He averaged 13.8 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game before going down with the injury.

Two freshmen will also be called upon to contribute from the start.

Matt D’Amico, a 6-foot-2-inch shooting guard from Fox Chapel High School, and Cameron Grumley, a 5-foot-9-inch point guard from Johnsonburg High School will both see significant playing time.

D’Amico is Fox Chapel’s all-time leading scorer with 1,437 career points breaking the previous mark that had stood for 25 years.

He ranked third in the WPIAL among Quad-A regular-season players averaging 22.9 points per game and was named a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Top 10 outstanding player.

Grumley was a two-time Pennsylvania Class A All-State performer  and was twice named District 9 Player of the Year.

As a senior, he averaged 21.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.3 steals and 3.4 assists per game while shooting 53.3 percent from the floor.

“We have some freshmen who can play,” Williams said. “They’ve been great.  If we can get production out of those guys, we are going to be OK.”

These freshmen and the rest of the squad will have to grow up quickly if they hope to improve after only winning five games all of last season and three in the PSAC.

“We just want to win games,” said Andrews, who averaged 8.0 points per game and 3.4 rebounds per game last season.

“Winning the Freshman of the Year was a great accomplishment, a blessing, but five wins is something I don’t want to be associated with,” Andrews said.

Clarion starts the season Nov. 14 with the Wolf Bus Lines Classic at Shippensburg.

The Golden Eagles open their home schedule at 2 p.m. Nov. 23 when they host Carlow University.

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