ON A ROLL
Resner hopes to keep Highlanders rolling
Highlanders have won two straight under new head coach.
It’s only early in his tenure as head coach with the Cape Breton Highlanders, but Ben Resner has already made a good first impression.
The 25-year-old has led the expansion club to a pair of wins during his tenure: 122-114 over the Island Storm in Charlottetown, Jan. 26, and a 103-100 triumph against the Windsor Storm at Centre 200, Jan. 29. It’s the first two-game winning streak for the team in its inaugural season, as the Highlanders moved out of the basement of the Atlantic Division with a 4-8 record.
But he knows it’s only the beginning.
“We tried to start fresh at the beginning of this week,” said the native of Centerport, N.Y., following the team’s most recent victory at Centre 200. “Getting two wins in a row, we’re not done yet. We feel good, but we want to keep rolling.”
Resner started as an assistant coach with the Highlanders, but replaced former head coach Dean Murray on Jan. 23, a day after Murray was fired.
“It’s been a little bit of an adjustment for everybody, but we tried to hit the ground running as best as we could,” said Resner. “We knew we had a big week ahead, and we really just wanted to get this thing rolling. We have all the pieces in there. We have a lot of talented guys, so we just tried to hit the ground running and the guys respected me and were ready to do that. It’s a credit to them.
“Coaching guys at this level is a great opportunity. I get to make all the decisions and Chris Farrow, our assistant (coach), really does a great job of helping me. It’s a great opportunity for me, but I want to win games. I want to bring a product to the community they can be proud of.”
As a 6-2 guard, Resner played for Stony Brook University, where he served as one of four team captains during the 201314 season. The Seawolves finished second in the America East Conference and reached the final of the America East championship tournament.
As a coach, he spent two seasons in the NBA’s Development League in the Cleveland Cavaliers organization with the Canton Charge. He earned experience working at the Cavaliers training camp under both Cavalier former head coach David Blatt and the team’s current head coach, Tyronn Lue, and had the opportunity to work with the team’s all-star cast, including LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
“People who know me thought I’d be a coach all my life,” said Resner. “I played, but while I was playing, I was getting ready to be a coach eventually. But I worked under some great coaches. My high school coach, my college coaches are now hired at a Division 1 school, Rutgers University.
“In the D-League, I worked for an unbelievable head coach, Jordi Fernandez, who’s an assistant with the Denver Nuggets now. I’ve been fortunate to work with some really great people and learn under them.”
Resner and the Highlanders face one of their biggest challenges so far this season. They’ll play their longest stretch of away games — five in total — starting Friday against the Saint John Riptide. They won’ be back to the friendly confines of Centre 200 until Feb. 25 when they host the Kitchener Waterloo Titans.
Ben Resner brings experience as an assistant coach in the NBA’s Development League into his first professional head-coaching job with the Cape Breton Highlanders.