McBride leads Vulcans in a “refresh” season


Jeff Helsel

Kent McBride talks to Robel Teckle (#0).

Rachael Kriger, Editor In Chief

Kent McBride jumped on the opportunity whenever he saw that California University of Pennsylvania needed a new men’s basketball coach.

He respects the legacy that Bill Brown, former Vulcan’s head coach created, however, he’s ready to make his own mark. The two have different styles, McBride said, but either way, it’s still basketball.

McBride used the word “refreshing” plenty of times when talking about the upcoming Vulcan’s season. The Vulcans certainly are starting off with a clean slate. The team has a new coach, and only five players are returning players (Luka Anđušić, Nick Miller, Tony Richardson, Daniel Sapp and Cordell Smith).

For McBride, the toughest part of the hiring was the timing. He was hired, and presented, on June 1. For McBride and his assistant head coach Justin Caldwell, jumping into the recruitment process was the first thing on his mind.

“I was hired on June 1 and school starts on August 28, so you have to start right there,” McBride said. “You have to evaluate what players you have, what holes you need to fill on a short time crunch. Everyone was already done recruiting, so you just have to sit your way through. That was a difficult thing to do.”

McBride did get some help from his assistant coach and former head coach Brown. He said that Brown suggested junior guard/forward Mike Stevenson to McBride and Caldwell.

“Coach Brown and Coach Smith were very open in telling us that Mike was someone that they’ve been on,” McBride said. “They recommended that we look at him, but they didn’t say to take him. They wanted us to do our own evaluation, and so we saw him, liked what he could bring, and we brought him in.”

Stevenson is just one of seven new players to don the Vulcan’s jersey. He is joined by fellow juniors Jay Tucker and Robel Teckle, freshmen Ramon Creighton, Jordan Gessner and Jacob Thibodeau, along with sophomore Rashawn Browne.

“Even though we have some juniors on the team, everyone is a freshman,” McBride said. “I’m new, our assistant coach is new, so our older players are as uncertain as the freshman and new players are.”

However, McBride does acknowledge the level of experience that the returning players bring. He also notes that the chemistry between the older and more recently acquired players are growing every day, and said that he loves the trips to away games, because players can get acclimated with each other. McBride acknowledged that chemistry building takes time, and that the real progress will be seen in “about two to three months.”

The players are getting acclimated to their new coach as well. Juniors Nick Miller and Luka Anđušić are well aware that getting used to McBride and his new system of playing takes time and doesn’t just happen overnight.

“Coach McBride has an excellent personality,” Anđušić said. “As a coach, he has a lot of experience on this level. He brings a lot of energy every day and his work ethic is outstanding. I believe that is the right recipe for successful coaching. We have only had  few games so far, but I really enjoy playing under his system. Also, off the court, he’s a great guy.”

“Coach Brown is a legend and Coach McBride is out here trying to make a name,” Miller said. “He’s trying to get the best out of us. The difference is that Coach McBride is a little more honest. Both are great coaches.”

The difference might not come through right away, as the chemistry and system learning will take time, but the Vulcans aren’t off to a bad start. The team lost their first game in the Virginia State Trojan Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 11 against Virginia State, 78-53. The next day, they bounced back and won against St. Augustine’s, 71-69. In their home opener, the Vulcans won in overtime against Davis & Elkins, 100-92.

The start is a good one, but McBride isn’t looking too far ahead.

“Our goal every season is to be as good as this team can be,” McBride said. “If that’s good enough to win a national championship, then great. All we can do is maximize our level. That’s what our goal is. The way we do that is attacking practice like it’s a game.”

McBride also noted that this isn’t just a one-year building process. With no seniors on the team and a multitude of juniors, McBride called this a “two-year building process.”

“We have a two year building process, so we can bring some experience back next year,” McBride said.