By: SPIRO MOREKAS
Last week we ran the first part of an interview I had with men’s basketball coach Pat Skerry. In the second part of the interview, Coach Skerry talks about his thoughts on the CAA and what the future holds for Tiger basketball.
Spiro: Coach, as you went through the CAA this season, was there anything about the league that surprised you?
Coach Skerry: As we went through the year, it was obvious that there was a big difference between the top four teams and everyone else in the league. Obviously, we need to close the gap and that’s what we are starting to do.
Spiro: There were some categories in the league where the team improved from last year to this one. Especially in the hustle statistics.
Coach Skerry: Yeah we really improved the rebounding, and as the season went on our turnovers started to drop. But we were still near the bottom in assist to turnover ratio, so that really has to improve. We have to take better care of the basketball. There were a couple of games where we could have won if it wasn’t for the turnovers.
Spiro: Now as you head into your second season, you’ve got the three transfers and the five freshman, so obviously there will be quite a change?
Coach Skerry: You know we were really happy with the way Jervon Pressley finished up the season. He played mostly at the center position when in reality he is a power forward. He has the body and the toughness for that position. And then we were really pleased with the progress that Marcus Damas and Kris Walden made as the season progressed. We have started off-season workouts and those three guys have jumped right in. They are really wired right. They are not selfish guys and they know their roles, and most importantly they just want to have success.
Spiro: With all the new players coming in along with the returning guys, can you work with them during the summer?
Coach Skerry: For two weeks during the summer we can work out with them in groups of four, much like we can during the spring and the fall. So as we add a lot of new guys, we are going to have to work hard to get them up to snuff defensively and through our recruiting we are getting an upgrade in our offensive talent. I think we will have an easier time getting the ball in the basket. But I think when guys go from high school to college they don’t have a clue as to how to get it done defensively. There is no question we are going to be playing a bunch of new guys, so we will have to get them up to speed defensively as quick as possible.
Spiro: So basically you will spend most of your summer work with the team on defense?
Coach Skerry: We will spend a lot of time on defense. In the spring with the guys that are returning we worked on confidence and working on their bodies. But in the summer I would say that we will spend most of our time with them on the defensive side of the floor.
Spiro: Can you have the incoming freshmen work out with the team during the summer?
Coach Skerry: Oh yeah, as long as they are in summer school. We should be fortunate that at least three of the freshmen will be here for both sessions of summer school so we have to take advantage of that.
Spiro: Where are you as far as next year’s schedule is concerned?
Coach Skerry: We are really on our way as far as scheduling goes and we should have that done sometime very soon and have a really good grasp on that.
My thanks to Coach Skerry for taking some time to talk. I think it was obvious to all of us that were around the program this year that Pat is a winner and he will have this program winning as well very soon.
On another note, don’t forget to come on out to Johnny Unitas Stadium this weekend. It’ll be an action packed 48 hours with football and lacrosse taking center stage. Tiger Bowl II will happen Saturday at 1 p.m. Coach Rob Ambrose and the 2011 CAA champion football team will finish up spring ball. It’s a great time for all to get a little football fix in the spring.
Saturday night at 7:30, the men’s lacrosse team will take on CAA rival Drexel. The Tigers will try to snap a two-game losing streak in what will be without a doubt a key game for both of these teams. The Tigers and Dragons are both looking to solidify a spot in the CAA tournament, and the winner is just about guaranteed a spot.
Sunday at 1 p.m., the women take to Minnegan field for what will be a showdown for the CAA regular season championship. The Tigers will take on James Madison. Coming into the final weekend, both teams are undefeated in conference play. Both have games on Friday, but both squads are favored to win setting up the Sunday game as the regular season championship.
Hope to see everyone out at the U all weekend long. GO TIGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!