A clean slate  has served the Keene State College Men’s Basketball team well. With the team taking last year’s success one step further with their first Sweet 16 appearance in seven years, Interim Head Coach Ryan Cain and assistant coaches Tyler Huntley and Tahrike Carter will be applying for coaching positions at KSC.

“I came from one successful program into another successful program,” Cain said when asked about the transition into his new job. “I knew we had a great group here, and I came in with high expectations for this team.”

Cain was a star player and coach for Worcester Polytechnic Institute and agreed to his first head coaching position at KSC after the termination of former Head Coach Rob Colbert last year.

Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and Interim Athletic Director Kemal Atkins said, “Ryan is a winner, as both a player and a coach. He’s a great example of the balance of academic and athletic success.”

Tim Smith / Photo Editor

Tim Smith / Photo Editor

Assistant Coaches Tyler Huntley and Tahrike Carter also just finished their first seasons at KSC. The former LEC champions were handpicked by the WPI alumnus, making them an unlikely trio of former conference rivals.

The three coaches said they are pleased with their record of 20-11 and the team’s ability to cope with the high number of injuries the team faced during the regular season.

“We had guys out left and right, some were out for four weeks, others were out for the entire season, so to overcome those types of injuries is something I’ve never seen in my 13 years of coaching basketball,”Cain said. “To overcome those injuries and still be able to cut the net and celebrate together with your team and advance into the Sweet 16 is really something special.”

Carter said that it took time for the team to find it’s chemistry at the beginning of the season, but the team’s hard work finally came to fruition.

“After our win in Western Connecticut, we sort of just clicked. The thing we’ve been waiting for all year finally happened and I feel like we really matured as a team after that,” Carter said. “I feel like we finally started to find what works and what doesn’t work with the guys.”

“The LEC Championship was a big moment for us obviously, the end of the year definitely proved to be a high point especially considering the challenges we faced with injury,” Huntley said.

The Men’s Basketball team was eliminated by Chris Newport University in the final 16 of the NCAA championship early this month with a score of 74-62.

“We’re kind of just moving on to next year. We’re happy about what happened this year obviously; it’s been a good ride but we’re focusing in on next year now,” Huntley said.

Carter added, “The guys want it next year just as much as they wanted it this year. We’ve seen growth from last year and I think you’re going to see more growth next year.”

Cain said his application for the head coaching position is still in progress, but he has proved to be a very viable candidate given the team’s success.

“We made a commitment at the time we made the coaching change that we’d conduct a national search, so it’s still important for us to continue to fulfill that commitment,” Atkins said. “I think that given his success it’s certainly going to be a very competitive process.”

Marc can be contacted at mapesos@kscequinox.com