1) Tell us about your thoughts/feelings going from one LL team (Ephrata) to another (MC) and a home/away series this season?
It’s definitely a unique situation. I spent a lot of time with the players on Ephrata over the previous 2+ years, and it will be weird to go back to Ephrata to play them in January. With that said, we are going to prepare for those games like the rest of the 20 games on our schedule. At the end of the day, I’m thankful to be coaching in the LL and for being given the opportunity to head the boys basketball program for the Manheim Central Barons.
2) Did you get much time with the Manhiem Central players this summer? …and what type of activities did you do?
I had zero time with Manheim Central this summer. I had no clue the position was going to open until the summer basketball season had wrapped up. I was the head coach for Ephrata for our entire summer, working to get ready for the season. Since getting hired at Manheim Central, we have been having open gyms and workouts for our guys, as we progress to the start of the season. Guys are working hard and improving every day.
3) What are your thoughts about the LL’s new 5 section league in 2 years? Where are the Barons?
I think the three section alignment is best for our league as a whole. I understand the LL will be adding new schools, but I was not happy when I heard we were changing sections again. When we moved to three sections, I honestly felt it was going to help build more inner section rivalries, with eight schools competing against each other over a fourteen game schedule. We had three competitive sections last year and will most likely have three again this year. Will the five section alignment be competitive? Of course, because the LL is an awesome league; but I feel like moving from four, to three, to five in a four year span is not the most ideal course of action for players, coaches, and fans. As for the Barons, we will be in section 3 with Cocalico, LS, Garden Spot, and Solanco.
4) Who is on your staff?
My coaching staff is almost the same staff that worked under Coach Sherwood and coached with me at Manheim Central for a number of years. Mike Smith will be my varsity assistant. Mike was a player at Manheim Central during my first two years on staff and then joined the MC staff a few years ago. Vince Quinn, who has been at Central for many years, will serve as the JV coach. Scott Gaffey and Matt Herbener (coached with me at Ephrata) will also be on the high school staff. My JH staff will consist of Mark Silcox, Tom McCabe, and Zach Schnitzler. Each of these guys have been involved with the MC program and I am very fortunate to have each of them on my staff.
5) Ephrata was a rebuild job. MC has been a contender for a long time. Is there a different mindset you will have a MC as opposed to Ephrata?
There is definitely a different mindset as I return to MC. When I started at Ephrata, I was not familiar with how the program ran, nor was I familiar with the players. All I knew is that I was taking over a program that had struggled over the last decade and I was going to do what I could to turn it around. Luckily for me, I had great players and coaches, and an awesome support system to help get Ephrata back to the playoffs. As I start at Central, I now have two years of being a head coach under my belt and I return to a program and a community that I am familiar with. My ultimate goal is to keep the program philosophies intact, while adding some of my own flare to it. We have two starters back from last year’s team and a lot of dedicated kids who are hungry to win and ready to make the jump to varsity.
6) Having Chris Sherwood around has to be a good thing. LLhoops knows you are very close. How much contact/advice do you believe you will be getting from Coach Sherwood?
Coach Sherwood will always be a mentor to me and I’ll always run ideas by him and get his opinion on things. We eat lunch together at school, so we will definitely be talking all kinds of hoops. High school, college, pro…nothing better to talk about than basketball. We also like to hang out as well and our families are close, so I’m sure you’ll see us out at games together.
Bonus: Is there anything you would change in the HS game?
Not really. I think the HS game in general is great. I think it would be cool if the PIAA had traditional school and non-traditional school brackets for the state tournament, but as for the game itself, I love high school basketball and what it’s about.
Bonus 2: Andy Herr, beat writer for LLhoops, and Dell Jackson have a small wager on the over under on the first timeout of the Charlie Fisher regime at MC. Andy says under 4 minutes in the first game. Dell says 2nd quarter. Care to comment?
Well, you both know I’m quick to call a timeout if needed. It’s a common trait in the Coach Gaffey Family Tree. The goal would be to not have to call one early, but we’ll see where the game takes us. I would say based on statistics, a solid over/under would be six minutes into the game.