Big Mac on Cam­pus

Im­mac­u­lata grad, for­mer WCU as­sis­tant Hy­man now lead­ing Macs

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Neil Geoghe­gan ngeoghe­gan@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @NeilMGeoghe­gan on Twit­ter

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.”

ANNE NEBORAK — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Im­mac­u­lata coach Ja­son Hy­man talks to Mike Piekarski Tues­day night against Wi­dener.

ANNE NEBORAK — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Wi­dener’s Sam Smith tries to stop Im­mac­u­lata’s Roy Fer­rell Jr. dur­ing a game Tues­day night.

ANNE NEBORAK — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Im­mac­u­lata coach Ja­son Hy­man talks to play­ers Roy Fer­rell, Jr. and Cordell Lord Tues­day night.

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