Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fitzpatrick Leaving Memorial for Bedford

It's official - Mike Fitzpatrick has stepped down as the head coach of the Manchester Memorial boys basketball team to accept the coaching position at Bedford High. There are few bigger names in New Hampshire basketball coaching than Fitzpatrick, so this is BIG news.

"I accepted the position with Bedford on Friday" Fitzpatrick told the NH Notebook. "I wanted a new challenge. I like to coach groups of players who are dedicated and I hope Bedford will do that."

Fitzpatrick has quite the track record. He coached Memorial from 2008-2012, with the Crusaders making the Division I (Class L) tournament all four years. In his first season at Memorial they made it all the way to the state championship game, after only winning 5 games the year before he took over.

"I enjoyed my time at Memorial" said Coach Fitzpatrick. "Both the A.D. Jack Quirk and the principal Arthur Adamakos were both very good to me. And I kept them informed throughout the whole process when I was applying for the Bedford job. It was just time for a new challenge."

Prior to Memorial, Fitzpatrick coached at Manchester Central throughout the decade of the 90's, leading the Little Green to Class L state titles in both 1996 and 2000. He also coached at Nashua North.

Bedford is definitely looking for some stability on the coaching bench. Both of their past 2 coaches (John Langlois and Joe Kegler) only stuck around for 2 seasons before stepping down). A couple weeks ago Langlois was hired as the new basketball coach at Campbell High.

"I know what people out there are saying" said Coach Fitzpatrick. They're saying Bedford is going to struggle this year with the move from Division to to Division I and how the good players transfer out of here. But I want to change that. I'd like to build the Bedford program up to be one of the top teams in Division I, right up there with teams like Trinity, Central, Bishop Guertin and the other teams who are consistently up there."

Last season Fitzpatrick's Memorial team made it to the D-I quarterfinals before falling to Central. The Crusaders will be returning some very good players from that team, including seniors Zoubel Iradakunda, Tong Akot and Joel Mayola and sophomores Oumaru Kante and Kabongo Ngalakulondi.

On paper they look like they could be title contenders this winter. But the team didn't have a particularly strong summer in the BST Summer League, as they forfeited multiple games due to not enough players showing up. Many of Memorial's top players play for the Bishop Elite AAU program, which is run by Memorial JV coach Sudi Lett.

"If there is a high school summer league game and an AAU practice on the same night, I expect my players to be at their high school game" said Fitzpatrick.

One has to then wonder if Lett will be going with Fitzpatrick to Bedford or staying at Memorial.

"I expect that Sudi will be applying for the Memorial position" said Fitzpatrick. "All I know for sure if that Colin Burke and I are going to continue to work together, as he will come with me to Bedford and be my assistant there as well."

Bedford made it to the Division II finals last season before falling to Portsmouth. They graduate their 2 best players off that team, Trevor Fahmy (now playing at Roger Williams) and Trevor Glassman (doing a PG year at New Hampton). Meanwhile their next best player, 6-foot-10 center Collin McManus is transferring to the prep school Northfield Mount Hermon.

"I don't know too much about the players at Bedford I'll be coaching" Fitzpatrick explained. "But I did see them play a couple times over the summer and they seem like a hard working group."

Luckily for Fitzpatrick, he won't have to wait until December to start coaching his new team.

"There are new rules now that allow us to coach our kids during the fall" said Coach Fitzpatrick, who is also a long time teacher in the Manchester area. "We now get to have small group workouts during the fall, and I'll be able to coach the kids during the workouts."

You definitely can't go wrong if you're Bedford here, hiring a guy like Fitzpatrick who is one of the most respected coaches in the state of NH. He is known for his calm, poised demeanor on the sideline and his teams are known for being well prepared and tough defensively.

Bedford is a town with a lot of athletes, and a consistently good middle school team that feeds talent up to the high school. While the McManus transfer hurts them, they still have a number of quality returning varsity players, including Cam Meservey, Jake Capistran and James Caparell. There might be some initial bumps in the road, but they should be just fine moving forward with Fitzpatrick at the helm.

And now the search begins for Jack Quirk to find a replacement for Fitzpatrick to be the next head coach at Memorial. Whoever it ends up being will have some big shoes to fill.

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