Boys basketball: Capital hopes to build off rivalry win
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A year removed from a schedule full of departures and disappointing results, the Capital boys basketball team declared a statement win in its season opener at George Washington on Friday.
After finishing 10-15 last year during a season in which more than a half-dozen players left the team via academic or personal reasons, Capital's 83-73 season-opening victory at GW provided the Cougars with great reason for improved results.
"You always want to start the season off with a win and to be able to win at GW, it's a good way to start the season off," Cougars Coach Carl Clark said. "We wanted to be successful (Friday night) and we came away with a win. We're pleased about that."
Capital exhibited confidence across the floor both offensively, with three starters scoring in double figures, and defensively as the Cougars forced nearly 20 turnovers.
The team appeared to play Friday at its potential that many opponents expected to see last year, though Clark admitted he's not sure why Capital received such attention last season.
"I don't know where everybody thinks we had a lot of talent last year," he said. "I've tried to explain, in the last few years, we've had some kids that have never played varsity basketball before. They moved right in from (junior varsity) ball into varsity ball, and we didn't have a whole lot of experience last year - and then we lost about eight kids from the varsity because of grades and kids quitting."
With several players departing the team, more playing opportunities, including starting minutes, were available for Capital's younger players, Clark said.
"Brad Grose, who was a sophomore last year, played a lot, started a lot," Clark said. "Jordan Kinney was a sophomore last year, and he played a lot, he started. He did a good job for his first year. Bryce Goldsmith, who was a freshman last year, came in and did a good job. Those three guys are starting this year."
Each of the three players started on Friday, with Grose and Goldsmith combining for 27 points, as Grose added 12 rebounds. Kinney scored each of his five points from the free-throw line in the game's final two minutes to help cement the win.
In addition, Clark said sophomore Miguel Bays, who started Friday, provides the team with another spark after missing the majority of last season with an anterior cruciate ligament tear.
Senior Carrington Morris, the team's leader and perhaps most seasoned player, said he's seen his teammates' confidence and play improve vastly since last season, particularly the success from Kinney.
"Our point guard Jordan Kinney, he's, in my eyes, the best point guard that we have in this league," Morris said. "I call him the leader, because he puts us in the right positions. He calls the plays."
While Morris may have carried the team last season, this year, he said, the team plays deep.
"We all can get off our own shot," he said. "We know that at any moment, if we want to try and get our own shot, we can, but the system is getting everybody else involved."
Morris recorded a game-high 32 points in Capital's season-opener. He finished 10-of-20 from the field, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range. Beyond scoring, Morris led the team in steals, assists and finished second in rebounds behind Grose.
At times, Morris attempted a shot against the wishes of the Capital coaching staff or forced a pass that would have been better held, but for each mistake, Clark said Morris displays greatness in his success.
"Carrington, he's a unique player," Clark said. "I've tried to get him to understand my philosophy and things that will help him if he plays on the next level. He does make some bad decisions, but he plays so hard and he does so many things. You get upset with him, but still you got to let him play, because that's the way he plays."
Similarly, while Capital made mistakes last year during its season of struggle, Clark said he looked for improvement and did not focus on record.
"You can't always estimate your season on wins and loss," he said. "You have to look at other things that occur during the season, and for coaches - a lot of other people don't see these things - the coaches know sometimes when you have a group like we had last year and they're able to compete, that may be as important to a coach as winning."
This season, though, it looks as though the Cougars expect to not just compete on a regular basis, but win.
Capital next plays at Hurricane 7:30 p.m. Friday.