North Xtra: New La Roche basketball coach in a 're-assessing' mode

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Five games have given new La Roche College men's basketball coach Hermie Carmichael an early assessment of what to expect from his Redhawks team during the current campaign.

Meanwhile, his wife has given him reason to reassess a lot of other things. But more about that later in the story.

Carmichael, 39, was hired this past June to replace Harry Jenkins, who retired after last season.

He put his time in, first as a player at Seneca Valley High School, then later at La Roche honing his skills. Carmichael, who played guard at 5 feet 7, had an aggressive style of play that didn't go unnoticed during his college career (1995-99). Carmichael was ranked in the top 10 in school history in assists and 3-pointers.

His efforts were rewarded this year when he was inducted into the La Roche Hall of Fame.

He spoke candidly when he said, "my playing time under coach [Matt] Driscoll, then coach [Scott] Lang followed by working as an assistant under coach Harry Jenkins provided me the additional experience that prepared me for the current position."

The Redhawks opened the season with an exciting 55-54 win at the buzzer at Clarion.

That initial confidence was jolted by back-to-back non-conference losses on the road to Slippery Rock, 62-56, and Saint Vincent, 73-55.

The familiar surroundings of the Scott Lang Court at home provided the elixir they needed to play up to their capabilities.

The visiting Geneva College Golden Tornadoes proved to be no match for their hosts.

The Redhawks built an early 12-0 lead before Geneva scored its first points five minutes into the game. By halftime, La Roche held a comfortable 36-27 lead.

Although Geneva outshot the Redhawks, 51.2 percent to 45 percent, La Roche's smothering man-to-man defense was disruptive enough that Geneva couldn't establish any momentum. The Redhawks limited Matt Lorello, Geneva's leading scorer at 30.7 points per game, to 19 points.

While Carmichael welcomed the win he said, "We have to get better each game. We have a nice mix of players, very athletic, who should become more cohesive as the season progresses. Our offensive rebounding has to improve because our conference is going to be more challenging.

"But we can win."

Andre Flanigan, a 6-1 junior guard from Newark, N.J., agreed with his coaches attitude and demonstrated it by being La Roche's high scorer with 19 points, including a crowd-pleasing slam dunk against Geneva.

"We're like family out there, playing to win because of our love of the game," he said after the game.

Two other starters, Derek Barber-Richards, a 6-5 senior, and 5-10 junior Lional Perkins, both of whom hail from Maryland, voiced similar sentiments.

"The unselfish play of the team. We'll improve if we maintain our focus and play to our potential," Barber-Richards said.

Joel McIntosh, a 6-6 senior forward from New Jersey, plays an integral part in each game plan; offensively and defensively.

He sees himself "as a part of a good team because of good coaches hoping to do better than last year."

La Roche was 19-9 overall last season, 13-5 in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference.

There is more than basketball results making news around the La Roche campus ... and the Carmichael household, for that metter.

Tammie Carmichael, the coach's wife, revealed some attention-getting news to her husband that she was pregnant -- this time with triplets ... all boys!

Currently the Carmichaels have two boys, 6-year-old Rowan, the team's mascot, and 14-month-old Ryker.

With a small stretch of the imagination (it might take some "redshirting" on the part of Rowan), whose to say that at some future basketball game, coach Carmichael might have the pride of pointing to his sons as the team's starting five.



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