Queen of Peace boys’ hoops squad moves forward with new coach McGuire

Photo by Jim Hague/ The Queen of Peace boys’ basketball team welcomes a new head coach in Tom McGuire (center), an alumnus of the school and a North Arlington native. From left are Nick Malcolm, Devin Sharpe, McGuire, Dante Bennett and Derrick Maurer.

By Jim Hague

Ever since he graduated from Queen of Peace eight years ago, Tom McGuire was preparing himself for the day that he would become a head coach.
McGuire just never dreamed that chance would come before he reached his 27th birthday.
McGuire spent the last three years as an assistant coach to Christian Boyce, a QP alumnus like McGuire.
“I was doing anything Christian needed me to do,” McGuire said. “I knew about the coaching aspect and I knew the game, being a former player.”
When Boyce decided to step down after a highly successful 18-10 season that included a win in the Bergen County Jamboree to concentrate on his education, he recommended that McGuire should slide into the head coaching position.
“I realized that running an entire program is totally different and a little more challenging,” McGuire said. “I knew the basketball side of coaching. It’s everything else that is a challenge. but I do feel like I’m ready.”
So McGuire will be the head honcho when the Golden Griffins open their 2011-2012 season Friday night against Queen of Peace.
McGuire will get some major assistance, as his former head coach at QP, Tom Decara, will be on the bench with McGuire as his assistant coach.
“It really helps having my old coach around with me,” McGuire said. “He’s a good calming influence on me. I’ve learned to coach enough to get this team ready. I think I’m ready.”
While the Golden Griffins lost their leading scorer of the last two seasons, Jim McLane, to graduation (McLane is playing at William Paterson University these days), they do have a host of talented performers back from last year’s surprising squad.
“It’s tough losing Jim, but I think we’re going to be a different team than what we had last year,” McGuire said. “We’re going to be smaller. We’re going to rely a lot on our speed. We’re going to try to push the ball up and down the court.”
Leading the way is senior guard Dante Bennett, who averaged nine points and six assists per game last season. The 5-foot-9 Bennett is a bundle of positive energy and is an excellent floor leader.
“I expect him to do some tremendous things for us,” McGuire said. “He’s a real special player.”
Derrick Maurer is a 6-foot-2 senior who will also be called upon to score. Maurer is coming off a fine soccer season and looks to continue that success on the hardwood.
“He’s a good shooter and has great touch,” McGuire said. “He can give us a quick hit offensively.”
Fellow senior Nick Malcolm is a six-foot swingman.
“He can do a little bit of everything,” McGuire said of Malcolm. “He can shoot, rebound, and defend. He has long arms and is very disruptive on the defensive end in every sense of the word.”
Devin Sharpe is another senior guard. The 5-foot-6 Sharpe is the team’s shooting guard.
“He’s also the team’s best ball handler, but he’s improved his shot tremendously,” McGuire said. “I’m looking for him to shoot.”
McGuire definitely wants the Golden Griffins to be an up-tempo squad.
“That’s what we’re trying to preach right now,” McGuire said. “We want to get the ball up the floor, but with more of a controlled break.”
Junior Bobby Keegan is the fifth starter. The 6-foot-3 Keegan, who had an excellent football season on the QP line of scrimmage as a two-way lineman, will look to use his strength and size to control play in the paint.
“He’s very tough inside,” McGuire said. “He has excellent feet and his footwork is tough to deal with inside. He has to man the glass, because he’s really the lone big guy we have. He’s also a very vocal player who voices his opinion from time to time.”
Junior Marquise Adams is a 5-foot-10 guard who will come off the bench and provide instant offense. Brandon Irizarry is a 6-foot-2 junior forward who can play either forward slot. Senior Brian Matias, another member of the QP football team, is a 6-foot-1 senior guard.
The Griffins will improve tremendously once Brian Webster sits out the mandatory 30 days required by a transfer. Webster had to endure the same penalty for football after coming to QP from Paramus Catholic, but the 6-foot-2 forward will definitely make a mark when he’s eligible.
The Griffins play host to Lyndhurst December 16th, then face a new school, Great Falls Academy, next weekend in their second game.
“I’m excited about this team,” McGuire said. “I think we’ll be able to do some nice things.”

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