Jason Delaney wouldn’t call the 2016-2017 season a bad one. Not even close.
At the same time, Delaney made this much clear following his first season as Cathedral High School’s boys basketball coach:
While the season was good by any measure, it wasn’t good enough.
“This is not the standard we want to set for every year,” said Delaney, who replaced former coach Andy Fagan in September after spending five seasons as the head coach at Cathedral’s rival, Indianapolis Arsenal Tech.
“We want to compete for sectional titles, and eventually win that state championship.”
The Irish in 2016-2017 finished Delaney’s first season with a 15-9 record against the 11th-toughest schedule in the state. Considering the team lost an estimated 60 percent of its scoring – as well as two Division I players – from a 17-victory team in 2015-2016, Delaney said that wasn’t bad.
Delaney left no doubt, though:
The focus for the future is to get a program that more often than not over the past decade has been one of the best in Indianapolis and Indiana back to that level. That’s the goal and that’s the expectation.
“It’s not like you’re coming in trying to rebuild a total program, but you’re trying to put your stamp on it and trying to change the culture,” Delaney said. “I’ve challenged these kids to be the first ones to win a [Class] 4A state title here.
“I’ve challenged them, ‘Let’s be history-makers and try to be the first ones to win the big boy.’ ”
The Irish this past season won their first City Championship since 2012-2013, beating Scecina and Howe before beating Manuel, 91-67, for the title. They also had a pair of five-game winning streaks in a season that ended with an 81-58 loss to North Central in the first round of the Class 4A, Section 10 tournament.
“There were ups and downs,” Delaney said. “We had some good wins; we had some bad defeats. … That’s a bunch of positives, and it’s something to build on.”
The Irish in 2016-2017 were led by a slew of talented young players, a group that featured Jarron Coleman. A 6-feet-5 junior guard, Coleman averaged 19.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this past season after averaging eight points and three rebounds a game as a sophomore.
“He really stepped it up,” Delaney said of Coleman.
Delaney said the Irish also got significant production from Tre Landers, who finished the season as an improved player. That was particularly true of Coleman’s effectiveness as an outside shooter. The senior improved his 3-point percentage from 15 percent in 2015-2016 to 34 percent in 2016-2017, and averaged 13 points per game.
Senior Daniel Goggans, who has committed to play for Franklin College, averaged seven points and 5.6 rebounds per game, while sophomore James Franklin averaged nine points per game and freshman Hunter Jackson averaged five points per game.
“We tried to give as many kids opportunities as we could, and throughout the season we tried to keep it going,” Delaney said. “
A sophomore class that also got contributions from players such as 6-feet-6 Ross Welch, and a freshman class that includes Grant Taueg help form the core of the program’s future.
And Delaney said while the overall results weren’t what the program will expect in the future, he no doubt feels good about what that future could hold.
“It’s such a great environment, and such a great education here,” Delaney said. “As a parent, you look at the education and that draws kids. It’s long-term for me. This is the ideal high-school job. As I said when I came in, it embodies excellence and greatness.
“There are always high expectations. You have to embrace that. If your goal is to win state championships, then you want that expectation.”
Delaney said overall the 2016-2017 Irish boys season should be remembered for a team that played together and built a foundation for a solid future – a future Delaney is convinced will be bright and one that will live up to the Cathedral basketball tradition.
“They really work hard and play with a lot of heart, and I think we’ll get a little tougher a year from now,” Delaney said. “Toughness is making the defensive stop when you have to have to, and knocking down the shot when you’re wide open. Doing that thing where you’re sacrificing your own personal interests for the team – that’s toughness.
“That’s what we’re trying to build toward. We have to be tougher than what we were this year. We have to get to that point where we can beat that top-level team.”