BALTIMORE, Md. -- In Part Two of our Mount Saint Joseph's hoops series this week, we break down all things Gaels hoops with longtime coach Pat Clatchey, from his star senior and top Terps target guard Darryl Morsell, to five-star junior big-man Jalen Smith, to his thoughts on the coming season after MSJ took the Baltimore Catholic League title last year with a 33-6 mark.
TT: Obviously, everyone wants to know about Darryl and his recruitment and his status right now. But first, what will a college be getting in him if he were to sign with that school?
PC: I mean, first of all he is a young man of character who comes from a really good family. His parents have done a great job of raising him. He is someone who will take care of business in the classroom, too, as he is a very good student.
And then he is a guy on the court who can make a team win in so many ways, and on either side of the ball. He can defend multiple positions, rebounds on both backboards, makes plays in the open court, makes plays in the half court, and has a high level of athleticism and versatility.
TT: I know you consider him "position-less" because of that versatility, but take a whack at it.
PC: Its hard to say, but my one assistants has a great line about Darryl: he can make a point guard play one time down the floor, a wing play the next time, and then a power forward play the next time. He is able to do that because of his athleticism and his skill-set.
TT: Let's break down his game some more, both the pros and the cons at this stage, starting with his improving shooting range?
PC: As a junior he averaged 12 points and 6 rebounds a game. But that was kinda the rap on him. But I think his shooting has improved quite a bit. He didn't shoot a lot of 3s for us last year, less than 20, and it was a respectable percentage. But that's not who he was, or who he is. But I have seen a marked improvement in those areas....his 15-foot jumper, his mid-range game is terrific, finishing at the rim, and his 3-point shot looks a lot smoother and is becoming a lot more consistent. And the other thing is he needs to become a better free throw shooter because he does get a lot of trips to the line. He was about 70 percent last year for us.
TT: And your favorite question (laughs) no doubt, who does he best remind you of, any player any level?
PC: Well, from an NBA perspective, he plays a lot like Dwayne Wade. He has the power, the finesse, can play with the ball in his hands, can play without the ball in his hands. And then he makes plays at the rim, makes plays in the open court, can post. He just brings a lot of stuff to the table.
TT: Pat, tell us your favorite Darryl Morsell moment on the court.
PC: It might have been this summer, and we were at a team camp. It was Maryland's actually. We were playing Sidwell Friends, and he was kinda out there....we were up by like 5-6 points, and I wasn't even coaching the game. But I was getting a little pissed (laughs). And I just stood up and yelled, 'take over the game. Take over the game. Learn how to dominate.' And he must have listened because next thing I knew we were up by 18, 19 points. I think he had a hand in like the next nine possessions on both sides of the ball. So I think he has those kinds of capabilities to be a dominant player in stretches.
But for sure, he is self-motivated kid, but I think kids play way too many games these days. Like I tell our kids at the high school level, we don't play double-headers, triple-headers, quadruple-headers....you play one game, and you win or lose. So that becomes a mindset, a maturity level thing.
TT: So looking at his career here at MSJ and its impact, as well as where you expect this season to go?
PC: As a freshman he was 29-1 on Jayvee. His sophomore year, we won the BCL and we were 33-6.
This year we should be pretty good, as we have a really good nucleus back from last year with those guys and some new guys coming in. And some guys who had specific roles last year but will have to kinda emerge from those roles this year. Guys now have that opportunity, and they are more than capable to rise to the chance, to the occasion. And for Darryl, like I said, so versatile, so he will play the one, the two, the three, the four for us this year. He will do it all.
TT: And away from the floor, what sums Darryl Morsell up most?
PC: He is just a really good kid, fun to be around, good personality and sense of humor. And he has matured, he has put himself in a position to choose a school like this from an athletic and an academic standpoint. You don't just wake up and put yourself in such a position, as it’s an accumulation of what he has done.
TT: How tough a call will it be between these final college options of his?
PC: He's got great choices, but he has tough choices and I would not want to be in his shoes. In the recruiting process, only one person becomes happy. It’s tough for a young man of his age to tell someone no, especially all the time and effort schools put into it.
And his has been different than others, I always thought he was this caliber player, but it just took time for other people to realize it. And comparing his recruitment to some of the other guys, this has been different from just the 'toss- up' factor.
And I mean, last spring he was taking unofficials to Towson and Delaware and George Mason, and now it’s like, 'wow,' things kinda changed really quickly in terms of the level of schools recruiting him
But Maryland, they definitely put in the time and effort. They have shown that he is important and a priority for them. Most kids who grow up in this area follow Maryland basketball. As a program it has changed a little bit because now they are in the B1G 10, and not the ACC. But regardless of where he goes, he will be a success.
And Notre Dame, they worked extremely hard, put in time and effort, and like I said it will be a real tough decision for the kid, I have had one at Maryland before, and one at Notre Dame before, so it's tough.
TT: Shifting gears some, update the progress and status of Jalen Smith for us, your prized 6-10 junior big man who will be attending the Terps Junior Day event this weekend at College Park.
PC: Jalen, he has really improved a lot since last year. He's a two-year varsity player, and you have to remember he played varsity as a freshman as a 14 year old, Then varsity as a sophomore at 15 and his body was not where it needed to be, but he was still a very productive player. He averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds and 2 blocks a game for a sophomore, and for a team that won 33 games.
He is now about 6-10, he has gotten stronger, up to about 195, 200 pounds. And he looks stronger, on the court he is more stable and doesn't fall as much. He is such a versatile player for his size.
I will be honest, the sky is the limit for him with his length, athleticism, timing, touch, skill set. He has a chance to be very, very good. Maryland is still definitely strong in the mix. And he's got a lot of offers, I mean Maryland, Villanova, Virginia, Miami, Wake Forest....and then Kentucky has come in to see him, Stanford, Michigan, Florida. I mean, he's got a lot of options and he's a really good student and his education is really, really important to him.
TT: Finally, tell us about your rising sophomore guard James Bishop, who you feel strongly about as well.
PC: James is another in a long line of MSJ guards. He's a 6-2 lefty combo guard, kinda Kam Williams-like in that high-level shooter/scorer. He played varsity as a freshman and he scored, I think, 385 points coming off the bench for us. This year he will be a starter, and he's gotten stronger and has a year under his belt. He is a very capable player who can play at a high level at college.