New coach looks for quick start with St. Joseph
Nov. 14, 2010 at 5:14 a.m.
Updated Nov. 15, 2010 at 5:15 a.m.
The St. Joseph boys basketball team had a tough season last year, returns just one senior and lost its head coach.
That's not exactly a good recipe to attract a new coach.
Enter Abraham Garcia, who wants to show he's up to the challenge of leading the Flyers back to success.
"The programs that we had before had kind of a set tradition, and we're trying to bring a new tradition here to St. Joe," said the first-year coach, who has an overall record of 139-73 entering this season.
Garcia coached for three years at Kress and four years at D'Hanis before coming to St. Joseph. He inherits a team that went 5-21 last season and returns one senior, Brayden Blanton.
But that didn't deter him.
"A small-town atmosphere with a Catholic community and the good kids kind of attracted me here," Garcia said.
From the time he stepped foot on campus and started working with his team, Garcia wanted to make the program his own. The players have noticed the new energy.
"It's a lot more intense this year and coach is getting us really excited in the locker room," Blanton said.
Blanton is one of four returning starters for the Flyers along with post Dean Vanek and guards Patrick Sohrt and Kion Wells.
The team made a lasting impression the first time he saw them work out in the preseason, Garcia said.
He was impressed with the team's quickness, speed and tenacity. "The kids really work hard all the time," he said.
Blanton knows he has to provide leadership to help the younger guys on the team adjust to their new coach.
"This year, it's a lot more important because we've got a lot of new guys and we've got to show them how it's done," Blanton said.
Added Garcia: "He's having to do a lot of coaching and he's doing a lot of picking up and doing a lot of leadership for us."
Along with Blanton and the returning starters, Garcia has helped bring new players on the team like Ansel Hoang, who is in the economics class the coach teaches and decided to join the team.
"Once I found out he was coaching I really wanted to play," Hoang said.
Garcia raved about the potential this program has to improve not just this season, but for years to come.
"We do have a lot of incoming freshmen that have a lot of skill and have a lot of ability and have a chance to help out this program, so the future is bright," he said.
But Garcia knows the onus is on him to improve the team.
"It's going to be the way I want to run it, and it's going to be start from scratch," Garcia said.
Turning a program around starts with steady improvement in each practice and game, which Hoang has seen.
"I've definitely seen a big improvement from our off season to our current season, especially once he started coaching us. We got a lot better," Hoang said.
Blanton thinks the wins will come.
"I feel like were going to have a lot better year this year," he said.