Big Mac on Campus
Immaculata grad, former WCU assistant Hyman now leading Macs
When four-year head men’s basketball coach, Terrance Stewart, left for Division II Georgian Court (N.J.) last summer, Immaculata looked to one of its own to fill the vacancy. And it didn’t take long for Jayson Hyman to make the decision to return to his alma mater.
“It is very exciting,” Hyman said. “I owe a lot to Immaculata. My time here playing basketball was some of the best memories I have. I am still friends with the guys I played with.
“Now I want to try to give the student-athletes here the kind of experience I had.”
Just the third head coach since the program debuted in 2005, Hyman spent last season as an assistant on Damien Blair’s coaching staff at West Chester. The 32-year-old spent the previous five seasons assisting Patty Canterino, the IU head women’s coach at the time.
“Coach Blair made me first chair on his bench and took me under his wing,” Hyman said. “It was a crash course. I spent eight hours a day with him.
“The pace between the men’s and women’s game is a lot different, and that pace at Division II was faster than Division III, so it took me a while to get up to speed. But it was some of the best experiences I’ve had as a coach.”
Hyman played for the Mighty Macs for two seasons (2006-08), and helped lead the program to the 2008 Pennsylvania Athletic Conference championship, and its first trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
“I am hopeful we can bring back the kind of dominance we had when I played here, and at the very least contend for a playoff spot consistently,” he said. “We should be pretty good this season.”
Stewart went 45-59 (.432 winning percentage) from 2012-16, and left the program with some quality backcourt pieces but little up front. Hyman acknowledges that he will be leaning heavily on veteran seniors Roy Ferrell, Matt Simon, Mike Sturdivant and Michael Griffin, who will serve as IU’s captains.
“They welcomed me and have bought into what we are trying to do,” Hyman said. “That’s been the most important thing of this transition.”
A 6-foot-1 swingman, Ferrell led the Mighty Macs in scoring (16.3 per game), minutes and steals. Simon (6-1) chipped in 12.7 points an outing and is the squad’s top 3-point shooter, but his junior year was marred by injury. Sturdivant (5-10) started 16 games a year ago and Griffin (6-2) was a valuable guard off the bench.
“Roy has taken the roll as a mentor, almost like a coach on the floor,” Hyman said. “Sturdivant brings energy and passion every day. Simon knows the game and has a basketball IQ that is hard to find, and Griffin is the ideal student-athlete. All of the younger kids look up to him and his workethic is ridiculous.”
Junior Will Chapman (58) and sophomore Cordell Lord (5-7) will handle the point guard duties, and sophomore Mike Piekarski (6-3) is a guard-forward who led Immaculata in rebounding (6.2) last season. In addition, wingers James Willis (6-3, soph.) and Josh Singleton (6-4, freshman) are also expected to work their way into the playing rotation and contribute.
“Piekarski has a lot of pieces to his game and he can be a very good player,” Hyman said.
“These guys play for each other, and they are not selfish. And it all starts with our four seniors. Roy (Ferrell) averaged 16 points a game last season, but he will give up his shot for a better shot for a teammate.”
With nobody on the roster more than 6-foot-5, Immaculata is expected to increase the pace of play in order to take advantage of its speed and quickness. Hyman described himself as a “player type of coach,” and prefers to give his guys the freedom to make their own decisions on the court.
The Mighty Macs went 1-3 in the first two weeks of the 2016-17 season, with Willis coming off the bench to lead the way with 22 points in IU’s win against Mount St, Vincent (N.Y.). In preseason poll of the Colonial States Athletic Conference coaches, the Macs were picked to finish eighth out of 10 teams.
“I’m fine with that,” Hyman said. “I have a lot to prove. I am kind of unknown and no one knows what we have yet.
“It’s all a work in progress, but I like being under the radar. It keeps expectations low, so our players aren’t stressed.”
Immaculata coach Jason Hyman talks to Mike Piekarski Tuesday night against Widener.
Widener’s Sam Smith tries to stop Immaculata’s Roy Ferrell Jr. during a game Tuesday night.
Immaculata coach Jason Hyman talks to players Roy Ferrell, Jr. and Cordell Lord Tuesday night.