Coming off a season in which it reached the Monsignor Martin final, St. Mary's has a new coach and a younger squad.
When former St. Mary’s athletics director Dan Gill left his post this past summer to take a position at a prep school in Florida, a void was also left on the boy’s basketball varsity coaching staff served as the team’s head coach, as well.
After a few month search for Gill’s successor, the decision was made to hire Paul Rath Sr. as the team’s new head coach.
Rath, who has spent the previous six seasons as the school’s junior varsity coach, was the varsity staff’s only change as all of the assistants from last season’s team that made it to the school’s first Manhattan Cup championship return.
“I know the personnel. Their strengths and their weaknesses. And I actually had the guys on Varsity last year on JV a couple years ago,” Rath Sr. said.
In 2011, the Lancers had 10 seniors on the roster and just three juniors. This season, the numbers have been almost exactly switched as the team is junior heavy, with eight on this year’s roster compared to just four seniors.
Having so many more new faces than veteran leaders simply means that the Lancers are going to rely heavy on their few seniors.
“I’m looking for our captains, Paul Rath Jr. and Quinn Gill, to lead the way,” said Rath Sr. “They’re going to have to fill some shoes.”
Of course, still having one of their top players in Rath Jr. on the roster helps ease the fact that they are such a young team.
“I have got to step up my game this season,” said Rath Jr. “I’ve got to make sure we play as a team, and that’s what we’ve got to do to win games. Being able to lead this team as a captain this year, and having to make sure this team doesn’t get selfish and we stay controlled is the biggest thing for me.”
Rath Sr. does have a bit of an advantage that not many first-year varsity head coaches have — he coached nearly all of the players who are now juniors in JV last season.
Although he knows how to get the best out of his players thanks to having a comfort level with them, Rath Sr. knows that the game drastically changes once they get to the varsity level.
“Just because I know them and what their capable of and who they match up well with makes it the easy part,” he said. “At the next level, the speed increases so I’m trying to emphasize getting the shot off quicker, and all those little things that will make the adjustment smoother.”
And even if it’s the first year of the “new regime”, Rath Sr. feels that his team can improve on the success they had last season.
“I believe we’ve got what it takes. We have to stay out of foul trouble and keep our fingers crossed that there’s going to be no injuries along the way, but we’re going to be contenders, we’re going to be in the thick of things,” said Rath Sr. “I believe that just with me being around the program the last six years and seeing the kids that’s definitely going to help us get where we need to be.”