Roman Catholic junior Seth Lundy is part of a terrific Cahillites' starting five. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
(Ed. Note: This story is part of CoBL’s “Prepping for Preps” series, which will take a look at many of the top high school programs in the region as part of our 2017-18 season preview coverage. The complete list of schools previewed so far can be found here.)
Matt Griffin knew what he was getting into when he took over for Chris McNesby as head coach at Roman Catholic last season.
Griffin spent his high school day in the Philadelphia Catholic League at St. Joe’s Prep, where he was an all-league performer. After a college career at Rider and Boston universities, he came back and spent two seasons as an assistant with Speedy Morris at St. Joe’s Prep.
Griffin took over a program that had won the previous two Catholic League titles and back-to-back Class AAAA state championships. He had to replace Penn State recruits Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens and Nazeer Bostick.
“It was a challenge,” Griffin said. “But I had coached against Roman for a number of years as an assistant under Speedy Morris at St. Joe’s Prep, so I had an idea of who we had and where we needed to go.”
Roman Catholic put together a fine season in Griffin’s first year, finishing 20-6, but the Cahillites lost to Neumann-Goretti in the Philadelphia Catholic semifinals last season and fell by two points to Perkiomen Valley in the first round of the PIAA Boys Basketball Class 6A Championships.
“Coming off two state championships, two Catholic League championships, two city championships, how can you do better?” Griffin said. “So our focus has just been progressing. We’re constantly, relentlessly progressing in everything we’re doing and hopefully we can be the best we can by the end of the season.”
Roman loses two starters in guards Da’Kquan Davis and J.P. Sanders, who both averaged double figures last season.
Davis, currently at Arcadia, was the team’s lead guard last season, earning second team all-Catholic League honors. Sanders was a team captain and one of the team’s better defenders. One of the team’s top bench guys Chris Kuhar, is currently a walk-on at La Salle.
Towson commit Allen Betrand (above) brings toughness and scoring to the wing. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Coming back for the Cahillites, however, is a very talented trio. Senior Allen Betrand, junior Seth Lundy and sophomore Lynn Greer III all earned all-Catholic League honors last season.
Betrand adjusted well to the Catholic League last season after transferring from Samuel Fels. The 6-foot-3 guard led the team in scoring at 14.1 points per game and earned first team all-league honors. He is committed to play at Towson next season.
This offseason, Betrand has watched two plays over and over. In last year’s Catholic League semis, Neumann’s Quade Green took two charges against him in Roman’s 67-56 loss.
With Davis and Sanders gone he is hoping to take on even more of a leadership role this season. That includes doing things like getting teammates ready to go before practice starts.
“I’ve been doing at all my life,” Betrand said. “I’ve been around teams that I’ve had to lead, so it’s nothing new to me.”
Lundy had a breakout year as a sophomore, averaging 12 points per game. The 6-foot-5 small forward picked up an offer from Oregon this summer. Greer, who had an offer from Penn State before playing a minute at Roman, got plenty of experience last season as freshman.
Both will need to take another leap forward this year.
“Seeing Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens lead the team last year, I just feel like I can do that this year,” Lundy said. “I feel like I’m a leader on this team this year, so I have to take ownership and make sure the team respect’s me. It’s about going out there and playing hard.”
Roman isn’t quite as deep last year after Betrand, Lundy and Greer, but Kingsway (N.J.) transfer Hakim Hart should help. The 6-foot-3 junior guard has Division I interest. Junior guard Semaj Mills also transferred from Neumann.
Senior John Kelly, junior Louie Wild and sophomore Nasir Lett should also be in Griffin's rotation. Wild and Lett can help bring some shooting to the team, while Kelly is one of the only big men on this year’s team.
Size is the most glaring weakness on Griffin’s roster.
“We’re not a tall team, and we can’t let that be our kryptonite,” Griffin said. “We have to learn how to defend, and we have to learn how to box out and not let our height or lack thereof be a factor.”
“When we play bigger teams, we actually look at it as an advantage because they have to come out and guard us,” Lundy added.
Lundy was a freshman at Roman two seasons ago when the Cahilites finished off back-to-back Catholic League and state titles. He is the only member of this year’s squad who had an up-and-close look at that team.
Along with the group’s talent, the work ethic of the 2015-16 squad is what made it stood out.
“We had some great players on our team that year, but most importantly, they worked so hard every day in practice,” Lundy said. “From as soon as you step on the court to when you step off the court. You step on the court and you wouldn’t even think we were friends. We just attacked each other, played so hard like we didn’t even know each other...That’s what we have to do this year.”