McNamara set to lead Pentucket to repeat North title
Tuesday, December, 04
By John Shimer
As if a 21-2 record and a trip to the EMass. Division 3 semifinal at the TD Banknorth Garden weren't enough for Pentucket coach John McNamara last winter, he received the last of the honorary accolades last week for year one as Sachems coach.
McNamara was named the Division 3 North coach of the year by the Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association at Holy Cross, capping a season that included Pentucket's first EMass. Tournament appearance in 15 years.
After receiving a phone call last spring, McNamara found out in October that he'd receive an award at the annual banquet for over 350 across the state in November.
"My wife was pretty happy and she got me to go," said the modest coach, not liking to draw attention away from his team's accomplishments. "It was actually really nice, they honored several coaches by putting them in the Mass. Hall of Fame, and I also got to put some names to faces that I heard about from other areas of the state."
For McNamara, the award symbolized much more than just an individual achievement, it was something that the entire program should revel in.
"This is really a whole program award from the players to assistant coaches to the fans," McNamara said. "It's easy to get recognized when you win, and its easy to win when you have great players to go with great assistants like Carolyn Fichera.
"Last year, I asked (Pentucket boys basketball coach) Leo Parent what he thought was his best coaching job, one of the 21-1 or 20-2 seasons he's had in the past, and he said it was when his team went 15-5," McNamara continued. "Sometimes when you have less talent, that's when you do your best coaching, but last year we had a phenomenal team."
In the process of building a Cinderella season, the coach said the most rewarding aspect was watching the following for the team increase to mad-house levels by the end of the season.
"The thing I look back on was how the girls and the community came together," said McNamara of the Pentucket fanhood that reached rabid levels by the end of the season. "It wasn't just 10 or 12 players bonding, it was looking up and seeing all the Pentucket nuts."
"For the first couple of games you would look up in the stands and see 15 people watching our games," McNamara said. "But, into the tournament when we could no longer fit enough fans in our own stands, at St. John's when the stands were full of Pentucket supporters, and all the way to the Garden, that following meant so much to all of us."
Heading into the 2007-08 season, McNamara hopes his team isn't a one-hit wonder and that it can cope with taking each team's best shot night in and night out.
"It was nice to put our high school on the map, people no longer confuse us with Pawtucket, R.I.," said McNamara of his team's newfound recognition. "Last year at this time no one was focussing on us and now everyone is probably circling us on their schedule. Whether we justify that is another matter, but how we respond to that challenge will probably determine how are season plays out."