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Fox Hopes to Bring Up-Tempo Style of Basketball to Clarion
(Photo: Scott Fox (left in white dress shirt) is the new boys’ basketball coach at Clarion High School. Photo by Loni Beichner)
Fox, who has been the assistant coach for nearly a decade at Clarion-Limestone under Joe Ferguson, was named the boys’ basketball coach at Clarion Area Tuesday.
“I was intrigued with the opportunity to become a head coach,” Fox said. “My ultimate goal was to become a head coach eventually.”
The 2005 graduate of Youngsville High School in Warren County and a Clarion University graduate who now works as a City Carrier for the United States Postal Service in New Bethlehem, said the Clarion job seemed like a natural fit.
“Coaching against them, seeing they have some talent coming up, helped a lot too,” Fox said. “I think the biggest challenge will be to make them more team-oriented rather than relying on one player all the time.”
Last season, under Jess Quinn who resigned following the season, the Bobcats were 11-12 overall and 6-4 in the KSAC North finishing in third place behind C-L and North Clarion.
Sophomore Cal German (19.0 ppg) and junior Nick Frederick (13.0 ppg) accounted for over half the Bobcats scoring.
“Cal is a great player,” Fox said. “Last year, they relied on Cal a lot. They have other solid players around him.”
Getting those other “solid players” to buy into what he wants to do will be the key to any success for the Bobcats, Fox said.
“I am hoping to bring fun, fast basketball to Clarion,” Fox said. “I want to get out in transition and not have to worry about a set offense where you have to hit an open guy. I want to get easy buckets in transition. Hopefully, with the athletes Clarion has, we can get out and run and get easier baskets and not have to rely on Cal in the halfcourt to create those opportunities.”
According to Fox, players see the up-and-down style of basketball being about scoring points, but he says there is more to it than just that.
“I think the players like it because they get out and score points,” Fox said. “As a coach, I see it as getting better opportunities. There are times you need to sit out and work the ball around methodically too because you need that at times.”
Fox, like most coaches, also believes defense is important, even if the C-L teams he helped coach were never known as defensive-first teams.
“Defense is definitely important,” Fox said. “Last year, I think we had the best year we’ve had defensively at C-L. We focused on limiting dribble penetration, but the 3-point killed us.”
Fox said being able to do both will be the key to success at Clarion.
“What I have seen as a coach is the mid-range jumper has disappeared,” Fox said. “You need to be able to defend the three and take away the layup. If you do that, you have a better chance of success defensively. At C-L, we weren’t bad, but we gave up a lot of opportunities with our style of play.”
Fox believes building the program from the youth levels on up through the high school program is an important ingredient. He has seen that formula work well at C-L.
“As the head coach, you have to be seen at the junior high level,” Fox said. “You have to support those teams and the staff at that level and have your system in place at the junior high level. That is what we have at C-L, and I would like to start that at Clarion.”
Fox knows that getting the job when he has will present a challenge this year.
“One of the challenges is me starting off the third week in June,” Fox said. “I have a meeting with the AD (Nancy Mills) and Superintendent (Joe Carico) (this coming) week. But it will be July before I can really start anything. I am going to have to work with the other coaches to see what they are doing, and I hope to get the players to participate in some open gyms before football.”
Fox recognizes that the Clarion job can be challenging. He will be the team’s third head coach in five years following Todd Smith and Quinn.
“It (coaching at Clarion) is definitely a challenge,” Fox said. “I have discussed that with several people. They are accustomed to winning with football being so good.”
It’s football’s success that Fox believes will be the biggest challenge, even if it is a positive one.
“Team chemistry is important, and you need to star that in the fall and the early part of the season,” Fox said. “With the success they have had in football, they go late in the year in football and you lose some of that team chemistry in basketball. That chemistry takes longer to build and you are later in the year when it starts to happen. At that point, you are on the cusp of the where you are playoff wise. You may end up playing a Coudersport or a Ridgway in the first round, and it’s tough.”
Fox knows that being the head coach means a lot more of a time commitment than when he was an assistant coach.
“There is a lot more administrative work,” Fox said. “There is a lot more communication with boosters and parents. Coach Joe (Ferguson) was doing that at C-L. I am learning a little of that, but you have to manage junior high through varsity because you want to be involved in all of that has a head coach. It is definitely a lot more time.”
Fox, a three-year letter winner in basketball at Youngsville, credits a pair of his high school coaches for his desire to get into coaching and hopes he can have the same impact on players as those coaches had on him.
“There were a couple of coaches who impacted me,” Fox said. “Ernie Hemmerly and Eric Mineweaser were a great influence on me, and I hope to be to our players what they were to me from 14-years old to 17-years old.”
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