CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston Catholic is slowly finding out how the other half lives, and right now is trying to make sense of everything.
In past years under coach Bill McClanahan, the Irish have able to take players with (to put it delicately) limited skill, yet produce unlimited success.
Well, Catholic's roster has gotten stronger and perhaps now is even more individually skilled than its 2006-07 title team that featured first-team all-staters Bo King and Joe Sassler.
All of which has McClanahan scratching his head at times this season. All the talent the Irish possess has translated into a 2-1 start with, according to McClanahan, a lot of hiccups, including Friday's 45-41 loss at Poca.
"My concern is that our effort and our consistency is a real problem right now,'' he said, "and that's never been an issue we've had to deal with in the past. I think on our teams in past years we've had here, they may have lacked some basketball skills. Well, this team has basketball skills, but I'm not sure they have the focus and the energy and the intensity - and that's a bit unusual for us.
"It's been a pattern so far. We started out the same at Parkersburg Catholic as we did [at Poca]. We played a beautiful first quarter and in the second and third quarters, we just relaxed and turned the switch off and had to find it again in the fourth quarter. We were fortunate at Parkersburg Catholic, but [at Poca], we weren't.''
The Dots went on a 15-0 run to close the second quarter Friday night and never let the Irish regain the lead. Catholic went nearly eight minutes without a point and finished with 16 turnovers.
"We've got to grow from this,'' McClanahan said. "We've got to learn from this and we have to understand that we are chasing something, and if we want to be playing well in March, we have to start playing well now and take little steps. They're not big steps. It's a distance run and not a sprint, but you have to get better with each stride and we're not quite where we need to be yet.
"Sixteen turnovers is double what we expect to have in a game. It comes back to our focus and our execution. We don't want to put teams on the bonus unless we're behind and we have to foul, but we're fouling sometimes needlessly and that's a lack of positioning and a lack of effort to get in position. On the offensive end, we'll go good for a few minutes, then we'll stand around for a few minutes. We need to grow up and understand what we're doing and the level we're capable of playing at, and we need to go chase it. We've got a spark, but we need to set a fire.''
Align in the sand
When the SSAC realigned its sectional and regional order in Class AAA in the offseason, perhaps the biggest change was putting South Charleston into Region 3.
No longer are the Black Eagles battling Region 4 teams like Huntington, Logan and Winfield for a spot in the state tournament. Now it's the likes of George Washington and Capital (in SC's own Section 1) and Woodrow Wilson (in Section 2).
With SC again expected to floor a strong squad, it certainly changes the dynamic with regard to getting into the state tournament - for both the Black Eagles and their new regional neighbors.
SC coach Vic Herbert, whose team should be highly ranked when the first regular-season poll comes out early next month, disputes the fact the Black Eagles will have a relatively-easy path to the state tournament owing to the rebuilding currently going on at GW and Capital.