By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
It hasn’t been the kind of start that Queen of Peace head boys’ basketball coach Tom McGuire hoped for this season.
But McGuire isn’t about to write the entire year off just yet.
“I think we have some young talented players who have a chance to be pretty good,” said McGuire, who is in his second season as the head coach at his alma mater. “Our junior class is pretty strong. Right now, they’re getting a lot of experience and their understanding of the game is better.”
But the Golden Griffins are only 1-6, getting their first win last week against Walllington.
“It’s disappointing that we have a 1-6 record,” McGuire said. “We have to get rid of that losing mentality. We’re making a lot of mental mistakes and not giving a maximum effort.”
McGuire knew that the transition this season would be a little tough, considering that the Golden Griffins lost seven seniors from last year, five of whom played major roles.
“We went seven or eight deep and most of those players were seniors who have graduated,” McGuire said. “It’s never easy to lose that much. But I’ve watched our players’ progress and figured we might be better than people thought. Even with our record, we still may be better. It’s a new year, a fresh start.”
McGuire is hopeful that the win over Wallington could serve as a jump start to the team.
The Golden Griffins have two point guards in juniors Kevin Momnohin and Christian Rosario. Both are 5-foot- 8 and do a variety of things.
“I just feel better with two point guards,” McGuire said.
Brendon Irizarry is the shooting guard. Irizarry, who started last season, has improved his scoring production, especially with a better shot from the perimeter.
“He’s been coming on lately,” McGuire said of Irizarry. “He’s being more assertive. He realizes now that he can’t be just a shooter.”
Senior Bobby Keegan is the team’s power forward. The 6-foot-3 Keegan started last season for the Griffins.
“He’s very powerful down low and has good footwork close to the basket,” McGuire said. “He also has good hands.”
Junior Danny Douelfakar is another player who does his best work close to the basket.
“He’s pretty athletic, but he’s still trying to find a feel for the game,” McGuire said. “He didn’t play at all last year, so that’s why he’s working his way back. But he gets up and down the floor well and has the ability to play both inside and out.”
Senior Nik Dunn is a 5-foot- 11 swingman.
“He does a little bit of everything,” McGuire said. “He’s averaging 10 points per game. He’s a maximum effort kind of player. He gets every ounce out of his ability and gives it his all every time he’s on the court. I wish I had more kids like him.”
McGuire likes the development of 6-foot-2 freshman Jeremy Joseph.
“He broke his nose in a scrimmage, so he has to wear the mask now,” McGuire said. “But that hasn’t slowed him down at all. He’s a gifted player. He does make freshman mistakes, but we’re asking a lot of him already. He has great potential. I have high hopes for the kid. He’s the toughest freshman I’ve ever seen. He’s difficult to deal with on the boards.”
Matt Riley is a 6-foot-2 junior who plays small forward.
“He has a great touch from behind the 3-point circle,” McGuire said. “With his shot, we’re looking for a little spark.”
Pat O’Keefe is a 6-foot-1 junior forward who has improved immensely.
“He progressed well over the summer,” McGuire said. “He earned his spot on the roster with his play over the summer. He’s just improved so much and keeps improving.”
Sophomores Joe Cook and Mike Pettigrew are almost bookends. They’re both 5-foot- 11 and do a lot of the same things.
“They come off the bench now, but they both have a very bright future,” McGuire said. “It’s good to have both of them, because they do nice things.”
McGuire is tossing the Griffins’ bad start into the trash can.
“I think the second half of the season will be much better,” McGuire said. “We’re going to be much more competitive. I think we can sneak up on people and surprise some people. The first time through the schedule was tough. I think we needed to get that first win to get us over the hump. I’m telling you that we’re going to be a nice surprise in the second half. I think the confidence will spread and that will be a big help.”
A simple win can do that for a struggling team. It may be proof that Queen of Peace has turned the corner.