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Frazier boys gearing up for season

| Friday, Nov. 16, 2001

There's nothing like a golden opportunity.

PJ Malloy fully realizes that great chances don't come around all the time, and he is bent on taking advantage of his opportunity to coach the Frazier boys basketball team.

"I think that one of the hardest things for a new coach is getting used to the kids," Malloy said. "But this was an easy transition. I've worked hard to get where I'm at and I've put in my time the last three years."

Indeed, Malloy already has had plenty of dealings with this group of Commodores. He served as an assistant coach under Dave Vindivich for the past three seasons. Now, the reigns are Malloy's, but guiding the team toward success won't be a walk in the park.

Last year, the Commodores finished with a 19-6 record and advanced into the WPIAL quarterfinals before losing to Vincentian. However, Frazier will be without the services of graduates Guillaume Beyl, Andy Johnson, Matt Kibe, Chuck Kennedy and Reggie Johnson. Of these five, Beyl, Kibe and Andy Johnson were starters, so Malloy has some holes to fill.

"We're losing 30 to 35 points because of the loss of the three starters," Malloy said. "That's tough for any team to make up. They were tough kids and that's what we need."

Fortunately for Malloy, there is already a solid foundation in place for 2001-02. The Commodores have eight returning lettermen, including seniors Adam Souply, Matt Fouch, Chris Johnson, Mark Matras, Dan Rumbaugh and Scott Knight. Juniors T.J. Martinak and Riley Tidholm also lettered as sophomores.

"Most of our experience is at the guard position," Malloy said as he noted the strong play of Souply, Fouch and Matras. "We're very solid at the perimeter positions."

While the Commodores seem strong on the outside, Malloy has recognized that Frazier needs to step up its play in the paint and on the glass. Look for Tidholm to give the team some stability underneath.

"Inside is where we lack some experience," Malloy said. "But I've been pretty pleased with Tidholm. He is our tallest player. He needs to be more physical, but he is getting better at that everyday."

Tidholm will be flanked by forward Chris Johnson. And according to Malloy, Chris Johnson is the key to the Frazier attack.

"All in all, Chris is probably our smartest player," Malloy said. "He knows what he needs to do. And he has made a lot of strides since he was a sophomore two years ago."

Chris Johnson, as well as all of the seniors will be called upon to guide this team.

"They know what I expect of them," Malloy said of his seniors. "They know how tough it is to win in this section."

Despite their impressive record last season in Section 3-A, the Commodores barely made the playoffs. But once they were there, they managed to make some noise by picking up a win over Sewickley Academy. And Malloy would love nothing better than to guide this team even deeper into the postseason.

"First and foremost, I want to compete every night and give ourselves a chance to win," Malloy said. "And we want to get back to the playoffs."

In addition to their many lettermen, the Commodores also feature senior Mike Perry, junior Pat Black and freshmen Ryan Keebler and Buck Erdely.

Malloy will be assisted by coaches Jim Lovis, Jeff Jellick and Rodney Fink.

The Commodores will open the season on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at California.

Frazier's first home game is on Wednesday, Dec. 12 against Charleroi.

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