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Season Preview - Boys Basketball
The time is now.
Head coach Jason Delaney made that much clear when discussing 2018-2019 Cathedral High School boys basketball.
“This is the year we built for, since the beginning,” said Delaney, now in his third season as the Irish’s boys basketball coach.
The Irish, who went 19-5 with a first-round sectional loss in 2017-2018, enter the 2018-2019 season amid higher expectations – and were ranked No. 7 in the December 2 Indiana Basketball Coaches Association state rankings.
“We’ll get a great indication of where are,” he said.
As Delaney sees it, where the Irish stand entering ’18-19 is as a veteran, experienced team ready to improve from the past two seasons. That means they’re better equipped to handle one of the state’s most-rigorous schedules – and better-equipped for what awaits at regular season’s end.
“It’s a group that’s determined,” Delaney said. “We’ve been together – the majority of us – for a while now. You see the leadership. You start to see the player ownership.”
One player key to that leadership is one of the state’s best players: Armaan Franklin. A senior guard and an Indiana University signee, Franklin averaged 23.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.8
assists per game as a junior. He was averaging 18.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.7 steals through three games.
“You talk about filling every stat category,” Delaney said. “That’s what we preach to all of our kids: affect the game in multiple facets. We’ve got a lot of talent, guys with different skillsets: ‘Own that skill set. Be proud of that skill set. Do that job to the best of your ability.’”
Delaney called Franklin “a fantastic kid and a fantastic student.”
“He’s a team guy,” Delaney said. “He doesn’t act like a Mr. Basketball frontrunner. He acts like a normal kid. Part of that is he’s had to work his way to get to this point. He plays both ends of the floor equally hard.
“His last two [scholarship offers] were Purdue and Indiana. That’s the dream here in this state. He’s
living a lot of kids’ dreams and very humble about it.”
Key to the Irish this season:
*Guard James Franklin, a senior and four-year varsity player who averaged 10.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game through three games. “He looks probably the best I’ve seen him in three years,” Delaney said Franklin, who underwent brain surgery as a junior. “He plays both ends of the floor – like a bulldog. He’s done a great, great job for us.”
*Senior forward Justin Hensley, a 42-percent shooter from three-point range last season who was
averaging 11.3 points per game through three games.
*Senior forward Ross Welch, who was averaging 3.0 points and 3.5 rebounds through three games.
*Freshman point guard Tashaun Comer, who Delaney said came in physically ready and had 15 points and five assists in the opener. He was averaging 13.0 points and 3.3 assists through three games.
“He’s going to be special,” Delaney said of Comer. Delaney said the season has a chance to be special, too because it’s a motivated team showing positive signs. One such sign came in a season-opening victory over Howe in which the Irish trailed 7-0 early before a 13-0 run keyed a 78-67 victory.
“The guys weren’t rattled,” Delaney said “They’ve been through so many battles and faced so many
great teams that they just put their arms around each other and rallied each other. These guys have won a lot of big games, but they’ve also had their heart broken in some big games well.”
Among those games: a 71-63 loss to Lawrence North in the first round of the Section 10, Class 4A
tournament last season. “What you saw in that locker room, you saw a lot of tears and a lot of guys caring,” Delaney said.
Much of this regular season is about preparing for the sectional tournament, which Delaney calls the toughest in the national each season and which this season features not only Cathedral but No. 15 Lawrence North, No. 1-ranked Warren Central, Arsenal Tech, No. 9 Lawrence Central and North Central.
Delaney to prepare has scheduled multiple difficult games on back-to-back nights in the regular season.
“It’s just brutal,” Delaney said. “We’ve set the schedule up to prepare us as much we can.”
What Delaney said he also saw in last season’s disappointment was another step toward the sort of program the Irish want to become, a process he said he sees continuing early this season.
“As a coach, you want instant results,” he said. “Sometimes you have to understand that maturity has to take place. For that to happen, time has to pass. Good things happened last season. We saw a change in mindset. Culture began to establish itself. Working hard and getting better was expectation.
“The greatest thing to me was how this year’s seniors took the freshmen under their wing to pass on knowledge; I told the seniors, ‘What are you going to leave behind to the guys who are going to be here? That’s the legacy, what carries on after you’re gone.’
“They’ve done a great job of that. You see the ownership now in the program. It’s the culture we want to build.”