Sometimes it seems like the 2016-17 Statesmen just can’t catch a break.
They’ve had to overcome a little bit of everything: injuries, ineligibility, a tough schedule that’s yielded some heartbreaking losses.
Now, with them finally getting over a couple of their largest humps of the season, a new one is popping up … one that might be their biggest obstacle yet.
Men’s basketball head coach Jay Blossom will miss at least four weeks after having surgery done on his right eye this January. It’s the second operation of this kind in seven years for Blossom, who is not planning to rush his recovery to get back to coaching, hoping that patience will ensure long term healthy vision.
The painful blow to the team came right before a moment Webster has been waiting for all year. With junior Carte’Are Gordon’s transfer ineligibility over, the Statesmen finally have the size they’ve been waiting for. Senior Donovan Daniels is also returning after missing a month with an injury. Just when Webster thought it would have the full team in tact for the first time this year, it will have to wait a while longer.
“Coach Blossom’s absence has taken a huge effect on our team, but we know we have to continue to get better for the short time that he’s gone,” Daniels said. “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter who is calling the plays, we, the players have to go out and execute.”
Senior Kevin Butler, who has become a standout for his smartness and flashy sharing of the ball, remarked, “It’s been tough. We really miss Coach Blossom’s energy. We have to find a way to get better without him.”
It’s not like the Statesmen are hopeless without their frontman though. Far from it, in fact. Behind Blossom is a crew of assistant coaches second to none in the area, and Scott Stallcup, a coaching veteran who has worked alongside Blossom for over a decade, will lead it as the interim head coach.
“Coach Stallcup may be one of the best assistant coaches in America if not the best, so he knows what he’s doing,” Daniels said.
“Coach Stallcup is a great coach. He’s all about details, and that’s what the team really needs right now. The small things are going to be the difference between our team being good and great,” Butler said.
With Stallcup at the helm, Webster will rematch SLUH this Friday after losing a heartbreaker to the Jr. Bills on a pair of late missed free throws in the Coaches vs. Cancer holiday tournament. This time, the rivalry game will be on SLUH’s raucous home court.
“This stretch that we are about to go through will be pivotal in what kind of team we will be in March,” Daniels said.
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