Future Bright for Beacons

Jason Campos

Although the men’s basketball season ended in disappointment, it won’t hang over the head of coach Charlie Titus. He came into the season with a number of goals for his team to achieve, and despite the lack of a playoff appearance, Titus could have been happier, but he is satisfied with what the team accomplished.

“We set a number of goals out front, and I think we achieved all but two: the team record being at least one game over .500 and making the conference playoffs. Other than that, we’ve had a team that has been a pleasure to work with, guys who want to come in and learn. The team has grown and we’ve learned how to play together.”

The transition from high school to college can be a dizzying experience, especially in athletics. A team that has 12 freshmen on its roster will definitely feel the growing pains, particularly when it comes to practice.

“Our freshmen have learned a lot about playing together,” said Titus. “This is college basketball, and it’s a big difference from high school. Take practice. I don’t think it’s a big issue for players until they get to college. They don’t look at practice at the same competitive level in high school. In order to compete on this level, practice is critical.”

It is often true that individual ego will clash with the collective goals of a team. However, Titus found that he had no such problems with his players.

“The team, particularly the freshmen, learned how to play the game as a unit. Many of these kids came from a program where they were it, the star. And they get here, and they’re not it. That’s quite an adjustment, where you’ve been the man all your life, and then you get into a situation where someone is asking you to play a lesser role, but continue to work just as hard. I feel that human nature requires a personal adjustment to be made, and the players have done it.”

Titus feels that most of his players come from a basketball background that he feels is an inner-city game, which focuses heavily on offensive. The team has learned other ways to be successful besides one-on-one moves. Other aspects and nuances of the game must be learned for success on the college level, and it’s a continuous process.

There are other things to learn besides offense: cuts, passing, setting screens,” points out Titus. “Have they mastered it all? Of course not. Have they gotten better? Certainly. Will it have an impact on the future? Absolutely.”

Although players Billy Allen and Roger Perry have combined to grab Little East Conference Freshman of the Week seven times, Titus notes others who have really stepped up during the year.

Roderic Jean-Joseph has just been phenomenal in his growth and development this year. There are a couple of kids on the team who got better, unfortunately they didn’t really get a chance to really play. If they had gotten more time, they would have made even bigger strides. And that concerns me. It’s a numbers game for now. If they stick with the program, they’ll get a chance.”

With so many young players on the roster, it would be easy to have the older players develop resentment toward the new comers, especially when it involves a decrease in playing time. Titus could not have been happier with how his returning players handled the situation.

“The five returning players (Jake Luhn, Joe Guertin, Paul Kemp, Kamau Pritchard, and Lester Robinson) understood that we had to get better players, better students, and better character,” said Titus. “I really believe that those five guys have really embraced the new players because they fit more of the criteria, in terms of what we were looking for. A guy like Jake Luhn has brought tremendous leadership to this team. Here he was a starter on last year’s team, and this year he’s been relegated to a role. But he’s the captain and he’s done a great job. Lester Robinson brought a level of intensity that our young guys had to learn from seeing on the court. It’s one thing to have the coaches preach about intensity, but it’s different if the young players see it being displayed out there on the court. Kamau Pritchard, who is our spiritual leader of this team; he does not get to play a whole lot. He’s very tough at practice, he knows what it takes to win. He’s delivered that to the young players”.

Even if growing pains and inexperience marked the majority of the play this season for the men’s team, Titus beamed with obvious excitement about the team’s prospects for the future.

“The future looks good,” said he said with a big grin and chuckle. But I’d like to maintain my view of it with guarded optimism. I’ve been in this business long enough to know that there are various things that could happen between now and then. But the signs are real good. I think it’s a matter of retention. If we retain well, and our players continue to work hard, and take the next step, I think the future looks really good.