Promising year for Malvern Basketball

Garrett Hallinan

While the buzz last year was all about the plethora of young talent, there is a new and more ambitious feeling for this year’s basketball team.

In the weeks leading up to tryouts and the beginning of the basketball season, Friar basketball had quite a scare.

With no seniors on the try out list, it looked as though for the first time in Malvern Prep basketball history there would be no seniors on the varsity team.  

At the last minute, however, seniors Billy Corcoran and Brady Devereux elected to return to the floor for their final season.

“Billy and I talked a lot about coming back, and we were not sure if we were going to,” Devereux said. “Then, we decided to play because it is our senior year, and we cannot let the team down.”

Head Basketball Coach John Harmatuk was very pleased with Corcoran’s and Devereux’s decision to play.

“They realized that they would be missing something special,” Harmatuk said. “With these guys, winning the Inter-Ac is within our reach.”

Including Corcoran and Devereux, there are two seniors, five juniors, five sophomores, and one freshman on this year’s varsity basketball team. Compared to last year’s team, which had more freshman than seniors, this year’s team is much stronger physically and mentally.

“Everyone’s gotten bigger and a lot better,” Harmatuk said. “All the freshmen from last year have gotten a lot better. Bill and Brady started out of shape since they were not expecting to have to prepare, but have really come into their own.”

Junior Connor Leyden, who had contributed quality minutes last season before fracturing his right hand, is also optimistic about the team’s development.

“Not only are we going to be a better team, but we will have better team chemistry,” Leyden said.

Sophomore Deuce Turner likes the way the roster has come together.  

“I feel real good about it. We are definitely going to be a lot better this year than we were last year, with a lot better leadership,” Turner said.

As the seniors of the team, Corcoran and Devereux have done a great job in assuming their leadership roles. What makes them a great pair of leaders is the fact that they lead in different ways.

“Brady plays with such energy and such passion, he is such a competitor,” Harmatuk said. “He ups the intensity in practice every single day. He knows our system, what’s expected of him, and communicates well.”

Corcoran, on the other hand, leads by example in more of a reserved way.

“He is more of the quiet type, but he cares. Billy’s reason for coming back was not about himself; it was about the team,” Harmatuk said.

As one of the leaders, Devereux’s biggest piece of advice for the underclassmen is that playing together is important to make the team the best they can be.

“Most of the [players] are really good, and they do play for each other, and I think that is the biggest part of our team, making sure that everyone is selfless,” Devereux said. “Billy and I both really try to hammer in that we really need to play together and that playing for each other is the best way to win.”

Corcoran uses his experience to guide a bright future with the many talented underclassmen on the team.

“A lot of the younger guys are better than me, so it’s not hard to be their leader,” Corcoran said. “In times where they need it, I go up to them and tell them if they need to calm down, and if there are points in games where they’re really good, I tell them ‘You’re unstoppable right now.’”

When it’s clicking, Malvern’s offense is nearly impossible to stop, especially when they’re shooting well from the three-point line. Harmatuk believes that the three-point shot is one of the most efficient ways to score the basketball.

“Free throw line, layup, then 3 pointer [is the sequence we believe in],” Harmatuk said. “You have to design your offense before you put the ball in the basket, and the three-pointer is a good shot.”

The players seem to buy into Coach Harmatuk’s system, and they focus on taking the rights shots at the right time.

[The three pointer] is worth more than a layup, and if you have the right guy shooting it, then it will go in a pretty good percent of the time,” Leyden said. “I think that we still would take an open layup if we have it, but we still have a lot of guys who can shoot.”

While Malvern has gotten a lot better and has high hopes for the season, the schedule in the Inter-Ac will present a challenge, according to Harmatuk.

“Haverford has everyone returning. EA has three returning starters but lost a ton of experience and talent. Penn Charter returns a lot of players. GA looks different and seems to lack talent.  Chestnut Hill is also up and coming,” Harmatuk said.

Despite the tough slate, the players and coach alike will #DemandMore of themselves every practice and game, as their slogan for the year states.

“We could get away with things last year because we had the excuse that we were young,” Leyden said. “This year, we have had punishments in practice, like more running. [Harmatuk] is definitely demanding more from us because he knows what we can be.”

The combination of leadership, talent, accountability, and passion all contribute towards the team’s shared desire with the two seniors at the helm: winning an Inter-Ac title.

“When I came here, I remember seeing the video of the 2012 team winning the Inter-Ac. That was a really cool environment, and I think we can do it this year,” Corcoran said. “That’s what was in my head when I came back.”

The team can’t do it alone: they’re looking for the Malvern community to rally around them, according to Turner.

“Come out to the games, and we will succeed this year, no doubt.”