Park City boys basketball begins its 2019-20 season on Nov. 26 at Snow Canyon
From the outside looking in on Park City boys basketball program, it would appear that the Miners are in a tough spot.
Not only is Park City jumping up to Class 5A this season, the Miners are breaking in a brand new head coach who’s only been on the job for a few weeks. That’s tough to take for a team expecting success despite coming off an 8-13 record last season.
According to new head coach Thomas Purcell, though, everything the Miners have been through and are going through means nothing. All that matters is the team and the boys fighting on the court.
“Right now the team is really buying into what I’m teaching and embracing our new ‘we’ philosophy,” Purcell said. “The enthusiasm and energy we have had in practice has been fantastic. Nothing greats happens without enthusiasm and I think that’s true and the boys truly believe that also.”
Purcell, who has an extensive coaching career after being an assistant at three different schools over the past decade, isn’t buying into the hype of a tougher schedule just because of the jump in classification. According to him, he’s seen 6A teams that were terrible and 2A teams that were stellar.
Because of this, it’s been easier to relay to his boys that their opponent won’t matter, but rather, it’s about the effort and fun they put forward.
Last season, Purcell, who was an assistant under former coach Mike Doleac, believes that the Miners were a play or two away per game that could’ve easily made the team 13-8. So part of his message to the team this season is about effort and hard work, saying that they won’t be losing anymore games due to a lack of hustle.
“I really want to see the guys having fun and working hard, which is possible to do simultaneously,” Purcell said. “The beginning of the season is the dog days where there are lots of practices and very few games and I don’t want to see them get bored. I want them to be working really hard, but also want to see them lift one another up during these tough times.”
For now though, Purcell is working without four players who will be on the varsity team by the time the season begins on Tuesday, Nov. 26 when the Miners travel to Snow Canyon in St. George.
Mark McCurdy, Alex Obradovich, Carson Tabaracci and Ashton Jarvis are all expected to join the team on Saturday, three days before the season opener, as the boys compete in the 4A state football championship on Friday.
McCurdy, a senior, is the biggest returner for Purcell, as he’s been a captain since his sophomore season and averaged 11.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game last season.
While he’s expected to continue his leadership for this season, he’s doing so as part of a group of seven seniors who Purcell really is counting to provide the overall leadership for the boys.
“There’s only so much I can do as a coach so I’m really looking to all of the seniors to emerge as leaders on and off the court,” Purcell said. “We’ve already seen some great leadership in practice already and I really expect it to continue to grow. It will be up to them to help lead us through the tough parts of the season, and I think they’re ready for it.”
Also returning for the Miners is leading scorer Nathaniel Lowe, a senior who averaged 13.4 points per game last season while knocking down 27-of-74 (35 percent) from beyond the arc.
Obratovich, a senior, averaged 7.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last year while 6-foot-3 junior guard Adam Spink chipped in 6.8 points per game, knocking down 27 three-pointers on the year.
Even with all of the returners, Purcell’s rotation isn’t set in stone yet, but he knows he will keep 16 players on the team.
“I think each team finds its own rhythm or balance and settles into a certain style of play as the season goes on that works for them,” Purcell said. “I’m not opposed to playing 10 to 11 guys or 6 to 7 boys, it just depends on them and generally with how much I demand on defense, those who do that will play the most.”
Purcell says the expectations of the team are high, truly believing they will win a lot of games based on the talent and size they have. But if the Miners are to meet those goals, it will take more than talent and size to do so; it’s going to take full effort over the course of the entire season.
“Everyone always think its either the last shot or last play of the game that determines the outcome, but that’s a total fallacy,” Purcell said. “I think it’s the little plays that add over the course of the game that add up to determine the outcome. I think we had lapses physically and mentally last year that we cannot have this year, but having correct energy and correct effort and a lot of that stuff takes care of itself.”
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The former world champion and women’s ski jumping pioneer retired in March