By Tom Bone
For The Register-Herald
Kent McBride’s second year in charge of Concord men’s basketball has put him more at ease.
“You do feel more confident in yourself as a coach, because what we did last year did work, somewhat,” the Concord alumnus and ex-point guard said on Tuesday. “But we need to continue to build.”
The Mountain Lions improved greatly last season, going 17-12 and reaching the conference tournament semifinals.
“In the second year, you’ve gotten to know the guys better,” McBride said. “You know how to relate to players, and how to get them to play the way you want them to play.
“They also got to know me, so it works two ways,” he said. “I think it’s really showing, the trust they have with me, and vice versa.”
McBride’s first priority was to improve the rebounding statistics.
“Guys that we returned are very good rebounders,” McBride said. “Damien Tunstalle, he was definitely my best rebounder as a guard.” Center Jordan Davis also showed skill in clearing the boards.
“We still have to get better at it,” the coach said. “We have the pieces in place. We have the size and athleticism. It’s just the mentality we have to continue to establish.”
It also helps to add a 6-foot-10 center, David Baroum, who was born in the African nation of Chad and attended Bethune-Cookman last year.
“He played high school in Virginia,” McBride said. “He’s got the physical tools. He’s still coming along. ... Once he gets up to speed, he’ll help us.”
Playing 10 or 11 players requires depth, and the coach believes it has been developed in the preseason.
The team has two stellar point guards in newcomer Paul Byrd and returnee Mike Boyd, who had five or more assists in 13 games last year. Thomas Brown can play either point or shooting guard.
Point guard Luke Campbell, a freshman from Wyoming East, will be redshirted this season.
McBride said, “He physically needs to get stronger, (and) we have such good depth right now at our point guard position. ... I told him, ‘We’re going to trade that year when you’re 18 for a year when you’re 23. ... You’ll thank us, at the end of the day.’”
Scoring guards include Brown, Tunstalle, Eric Bailey and freshmen Jake Bischoff and Woodrow Wilson grad Cam Shannon.
“They can all put it in the hole,” McBride said. “There’s competition. Every day matters, and if guys are competing every day in practice, you don’t have a choice but to get better.”
Three southern West Virginians — Gentry Shrewsbury, Bailey and Tunstalle — return for their senior year.
Shrewsbury returns at forward, where he’s helping newcomers Alex McGlothin and Nick Moyer learn the ropes of West Virginia Conference hoops. Community college transfer Nick Ruffin is also looking for playing time.
“There’s competition there,” McBride said, “and with the speed we play, at that position you have to have depth.”
“I’m really pleased with the character of the guys that we have, above all,” McBride added. “None of the nine we’ve recruited have a personal agenda. They know we’re in here to win games, whether they play two minutes or 32 minutes.
“They’re talented, and they’ll continue to develop. We’re young. Young talent’s OK. We just want to shape them into the right mode.” He said he’s been impressed with “their attitude, their work ethic, and the way they’ve bought into each other, as a team.”
Todd May, with an extensive coaching background in Ohio, has settled in as McBride’s new assistant coach.
Concord is 2-0 after winning the Mercyhurst (Pa.) Invitational last weekend. This Saturday at 3 p.m., the Athenians take on Pitt-Johnstown in their first conference matchup.
“We’re a very high-scoring conference,” McBride said. “If you don’t have guys who can play an up-tempo style, there are a lot of teams that are just going to run you out of the gym.
“I feel confident of us getting up and down the court with anyone, as long as you make good decisions.”
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org