Marcotullio Has High Hopes For Veteran Falcons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Jeffrey Reed, Editor, LondonOntarioSports.com

The 2018-19 basketball season at Fanshawe College promises to be one of the most exciting in many years. Women’s head coach Bill Carriere expects his team to fight for a national championship. And men’s head coach Tony Marcotullio said his team could do the same, with a little luck.

With the women’s team 10 players deep – a luxury in OCAA basketball – that puts some friendly pressure on the veteran men’s team to perform to expectations. According to Marcotullio, that pressure provides some great incentive for his squad.

Last season, the Falcons finished 11-9 in the West Division, but six of those losses were by six points or less. In fact, Fanshawe was the only team to defeat the 19-1 Redeemer Royals. In the playoffs, they defeated the Durham Lords in the first round, but lost 67-61 to the Sheridan Bruins, then ended their season with an 85-78 loss to the Niagara Knights.

Falcons head coach Tony Marcotullio. Photo: Fanshawe Falcons/Matt Hiscox.

“The Fanshawe women’s team is on a different level,” said Marcotullio as he begins his seventh season as Falcons’ bench boss. “Not only can they see over the horizon, but they’re going to be the first people to Saturn. They’re awesome.

“But I really like our chances this year, too. This year I really believe we can do a little better in the playoffs. I can see over the horizon. We’ll get over the hump in the playoffs.”

Marcotullio, with one of the most impressive basketball resumes in Ontario, said last year’s quarter-final loss to Sheridan still stings. “It was a nail-biter, and we had them by seven points with three minutes to go. But then we crapped the bed.

“This year, we have a veteran squad who play hard and rebound well. They really go after it. And we’re a defensive team. We like to control the tempo. We’ll be a team that is fun to watch.”

Marcotullio was assistant coach at his alma mater with the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks in 1991-92. He was the team’s captain from 1988-90 and an OUA Western Conference all-star after leading the division in scoring. At the high school level, he had seven OFSAA appearances as head coach of the Beal Raiders. The list goes on.

This year, his Falcons have lost three key players to graduation. OCAA West second team all-star Sean Clendinning, a 6-foot guard from Orillia, averaged 19.4 points per game during his fifth year. His brother, Jake, a 5-foot-10 guard, also provided veteran leadership last season. Also gone is 6-foot-5 forward Devante Douse of Cambridge.

Chris Parker

The player to watch this year is 6-foot guard Chris Parker of Toledo, Ohio. He returns for a fifth season after being selected to the OCAA West first team all-star squad. Parker led the Falcons with 20.3 points per game, shot 43.1 per cent from the field, 38 per cent from beyond the arc and 82.8 per cent from the charity stripe. He added 5.7 boards, 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game last season.

“Without a doubt, he’s one of the best players in the (CCAA),” Marcotullio said. “We have great expectations for him. This year he’s really buckling down on defense, and he’s made himself a complete player. He’s moving the ball a lot more, and will be even harder to stop this year.

“I’ve been coaching for close to 30 years, and I’ve never had a player do what he can do,” Marcotullio said. “He can fly. He can shoot the ball, handle the ball and pass. The only problem he has is he’s very moody. He’s an emotional kid. If he can cool that emotion, he’s a very special player.”

Another player Marcotullio is high on is veteran Alfred Johnson of London, a 6-foot-7 centre who has missed much of the last two seasons including all of last year with a torn MCL. In 2016-17, Johnson scored 14.1 points and collected 5.6 rebounds per game.

Fifth-year forward Lex Van Iperen of Englehart, Ont. lends some height at 6-foot-7. Adding the other veterans and a promising mix of rookies, plus avoiding injuries will make for a team who can challenge for a title. But Marcotullio said there’s another element needed before his team can do that – and he throws down the gauntlet.

“What they don’t do is hold each other accountable. That’s something most players today don’t do. All championship teams take ownership, though. They’re not aggressive about it, but they’re accountable to each other. But we are growing as men, and I’m excited about this team,” Marcotullio said.

Attracting top high schoolers to his program is a tougher task today with most Ontario colleges improving or building new athletic facilities, as Fanshawe did with its Glenn Johnston Athletic Centre, named after its legendary men’s basketball coach of 35 years. For example, St. Clair in Windsor, Lambton in Sarnia and Conestoga in Kitchener boast top-rate gymnasiums.

Chris Parker flying high at Fanshawe College. Photo: Fanshawe Falcons.

But with a deep, veteran squad, Marcotullio likes his chances. Pre-season play saw the Falcons beat three OCAA teams. On Oct. 3 they topped Centennial, 75-71, then beat them again today, 76-66, at the Durham College tournament in Oshawa. Fanshawe also beat St. Lawrence, 94-60, and Lambton, 87-82, at the Oshawa tourney.

Against Drew University of Madison, New Jersey, Fanshawe lost to their B squad, 91-86, but came back to beat their A squad, 103-84.

“They’re all great guys,” said Marcotullio of his team. “I like hanging out with them. They make me laugh. I can get on them, but two hours after practice they’re making fun of me.

“And I’m proud of my entire coaching staff. We all work at this full-time. We film every practice. We’re doing things differently this year. We’ve said, let’s put all the marbles in one sack and see what we’ve got.”

According to Marcotullio, his starting five can compete with anyone in the OCAA. And he said this year, his bench will help him “see over the horizon. We’re maybe one or two players away from a championship. But I know we can compete for one.”

The Falcons open their regular season at home on Oct. 19 versus Humber Hawks.

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Jeffrey Reed is a long-time member of the London sports media, and publisher/editor of LondonOntarioSports.com, and LondonOntarioGolf.com. Have a story idea for Jeffrey? Reach him at jeff@londonontariosports.com.

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office http://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com.

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