By Joseph Staszewski
Terry Tarpey Jr., set the tone early and definitively for the start of his tenure as Holy Cross boys’ basketball coach.
The former hoops standout at the school, who played at NYU and professionally overseas, demands accountability for his players in every aspect of what they do. A number of them came late to an early practice, only to find all of the doors into the gym locked.
“There was probably 12 guys,” senior guard Jermaine Bishop said. “One minute late, too. Coach is like, ‘I have no tolerance.”
Tarpey isn’t an overbearing disciplinarian by any means, but he plans on bringing stability to a program that is on its third coach in four years. He takes over for Tom Marchesini, who no longer had time for the job after two seasons, following longtime coach Paul Gilvary being removed from the bench. Tarpey’s knowledge, fairness and accomplishments in his playing days have already garnered the respect of his players.
“Tarpey is a cool guy,” wing Christian Wilson said. “He’s played basketball. He knows what he is talking about.”
The opportunity comes two years earlier than Tarpey, who teaches math and accounting at the school, would have liked. The 1983 graduate has taught at the school for 14 years, was the Holy Cross Varsity B coach for five seasons and won a championship before leaving to get his masters degree. Tarpey’s son Terry is in his junior season playing basketball at William and Mary. He had hoped to begin coaching again when he graduated, but Marchesini kept telling him the program needed him now.
“I wanted to do it, but he was being pretty persistent like, ‘Now’s the time. Now’s the time,’” Tarpey said.
He takes over a program looking to get back among the top teams in the CHSAA. Last year’s group was young and inconsistent, but showed with a great January what it was capable of when everything was clicking. The Knights, who reached the quarterfinals last year, will rely heavily on their guards and shooting, at least early on, to try to find that winning rhythm again.
“We had talent and when it came together we were good,” Wilson said.
Bishop will be the focal point for much of what Holy Cross does. He will see plenty double teams, but the versatile guard is playing with a chip on his shoulder. A badly bruised knee kept college coaches from seeing him play this summer and has him looking to gain scholarship offers.
Bishop will be complemented by Wilson, Jamel Horton and Robert F. Kennedy transfer Elijah Harris. The Knights, like most teams, don’t have any 6-foot-10 centers walking around, but they do not lack size. Forwards Yannic Williams, Gerald Buncum and Kenneth Nunez are all 6-foot-5 or taller.
“When we are a team knocking down shots, I think we are a team that cannot be stopped,” Bishop said.
Tarpey and the Knights are off to a good start with wins over All Hallows and Holy Trinity. It has helped make every minute of the experience enjoyable.
“It’s a lot, but it’s enjoyable,” Tarpey said. “During the day, I cant wait to get in the gym. It the best part of the day.”