By Joseph Staszewski
Archbishop Molloy’s new up-tempo approach has already produced plenty of smiles, thanks to plenty of easy baskets from loads of passes. Plenty more wins will come along with them as the Stanners boys’ basketball team enters 2014 and the bulk of its CHSAA schedule.
Molloy relied more on a set offense under legendary Coach Jack Curran, who died in March. New headman Mike McCleary had adapted to this year’s roster, which does not have a low post threat. Molloy now imposes its speed and athleticism on opponents. The ball is pushed up the court, passed two, three or even four times in the blink of an eye for a layup or an open three-pointer.
“When you put five guys on the floor who can dribble, pass and shoot, they are tough to guard and that’s what we are right now,” McCleary said.
His team immediately put Iona Prep on its heels in the first quarter of a convincing 86-60 league win Dec. 23 in Briarwood. Molloy had four players in double figures and shot 52 percent from the field.
Guard Gabe Kilpatrick attacked the basket to score 12 of his game-high 22 points in the first quarter. Fellow senior Jason Cethoute added 20 points and seven rebounds. Warren D’Ante tallied 19 points, including four of Molloy’s nine three-pointers. How about Columbia-bound guard C.J. Davis? All he did was score 10 points and dish out nine assists.
“It’s very fun,” Cethoute said. “Anyone can get a basket at anytime and all of us are really guards. We are all running and getting easy layups. And ones and three-pointers.”
Playing that way fits this roster perfectly in the absence of a true big and the presence of a point guard with Davis’s skill. It’s also pretty darn fun to watch, especially when Molloy plays as hard and as well as it did against Iona. Their goal is to dare their opponent to run with them.
“If we are going to play like this, we are going to win,” Kilpatrick said.
Molloy is off to a 6-1 start. Its only loss came at the hands of Mount St. Joseph (Md.) at the Gonzaga tournament in Washington, D.C. Much of the preseason talk in Queens in the CHSAA has been the potential for Christ the King and the resurgence of St. Francis Prep. If the win over Iona is any indication, Molloy will turn some heads soon, thanks to Davis, Kilpatrick, Cethoute and D’Ante, and others will be turning plenty of heads in the stands and off the defence on the court.
“We want to rebound the basketball and go,” McCleary said. “We have good athletes. Let’s take advantage of that.”