St. Ignatius (SI) finished 23-7 overall last season, 10-4 in the West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL). Noble efforts abounded but Coach Rob Marcaletti wasn’t fully satisfied. He expected more. “It was a little bittersweet for me. I’m very optimistic and excited about the health of the program and where we are going, but losing some tough ones on the road last year (lost by one at Bellarmine on a last-second in-bounds play and to Serra on a 40-foot buzzer beater) has definitely left a sour taste in our mouths.”
But the 2017-18 Wildcat season begins soon and “we will Be Ready!”
“Going into my official third season as head coach of the program, we fight daily to create the culture and lay out the vision myself and my staff want for this program,” Marcaletti explained. “We have a huge importance placed on getting it done on the court and in the classroom, physical and mental toughness, creating a sense of togetherness and work ethic throughout the program, all while being humble and hungry. “We know what a grind our league is but we are ready for those challenges and all that the WCAL presents.” With SI being senior heavy this year and not bringing up any sophomores, the Wildcats should also have one of their best JV teams in recent memory.
Here are the expected stalwarts for Marcaletti:
- Brandon Beckman – ” a three-year varsity starter who is a knockdown shooter. It’s scary when he gets into a zone. Brandon also has a 4.0 grade point average.” Beckman was named to the First Team All-WCAL team last season.
- Neal Begovich – “Neal played most on the JV team last season but has grown six inches and stands 6-foot-8. He’s going to surprise people because I don’t think a lot of teams have him on their radar. He can shoot, pick-and-pop and finish at the rim. He’s athletic and hitting the training hard.”
- Garrett Cason – “A phenomenal kid who is really committed to the program — he comes in from Fairfield every day. He’s a D1 level athlete who has been really working on his game and becoming more aggressive, channeling his fire.”
- Sam Nangle – “A lanky stretch four, he’s a pick-and-pop player who is going to have a huge impact for us this year on the offensive and defensive end. Sam is a pain in the butt to go up against.
- Matt Redmond – “a three-year varsity starter because he’ll run through a brick wall for you — Matt is one of the toughest players to come through our program. He’s a slasher/finisher with a great mid-range pull up game who is coming off earning Second Team All-WCAL honors.”
- Wrenn Robinson – “he has started on varsity since his sophomore season and is one of our most natural and prolific scorers/three point shooters who can create his own shot at will. Does a great job in the pick-and-roll game and attacking downhill. A high academic guy who is getting D1 looks.”
- Darrion Trammell – “a three-year varsity starter who is a freak athlete — he has a 40-inch vertical. He can really score, get us into our offense and make players around him better.” Trammell was a First Team All-WCAL selection in 2016-17.
- Teddy Snyder – “he’s our center and our backbone who sets the attitude for us. Teddy defends, is a great finisher around the rim and is very athletic, a head at the rim guy.”
Upon being named the head coach two years ago, one area that Marcaletti decided to place a huge emphasis on early was the bodies of his players and their strength and conditioning. He instantly hired a longtime friend, John Murray, who previously worked for the Golden State Warriors and Stanford. “The level of experience, credibility and knowledge John shares with me and our guys on a daily basis is unbelievable. It is clearly noticeable the difference he is making as we strive to take our players and our program to the next level. Guys are lifting five days a week this off-season and are so bought in they lift for their pregame warm-up prior to getting on the court.”
The St. Ignatius team was able to travel on a sponsored trip to Taiwan for 10 days over the summer. Marcaletti had the chance to see his guys play with FIBA rules and a 24-second shot clock. “I want to play fast and that was helpful for my guys to play in that pace.” Because the trip was rewarding in multiple ways for Marcaletti and his team, the Wildcats are traveling back to Taiwan and Japan next summer to participate in another international tournament and travel abroad.
“Our guys are bought in and hungry!” Marcaletti said. That bodes well for SI fans.