Local hoop coaches leave big shoes to fill

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Two local basketball coaches have announced they will be leaving their respective positions as CCRI men’s coach Rick Harris and Cranston East girls’ coach Jhamal Diggs recently resigned.

Harris will step down and her role will be filled on an interim basis, while Diggs has been hired as an assistant for URI’s women’s program. Each of these coaches leaves behind huge legacies and holes to fill.

Harris finishes his CCRI tenure with the second-most wins in program history and helped the Knights win eight regional championships and four NJCAA Tournament appearances. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was guiding the team through the rigors of COVID and keeping things not only afloat, but helping the team maintain their position as one of the best clubs in the game. region.

In my opinion, Harris’ influence on local basketball is incredibly overlooked. Of course, we all know how successful he has been as a coach and the strength of his teams over the years, but his position as junior college coach is extraordinarily difficult and important.

Unlike four-year colleges, Harris only had children for a year or two. Continuity in his rosters was extremely hard to come by and the fact that his program has remained so consistent over the years is testament to that. Additionally, many children attend junior college programs in order to be part of a four-year team. Without these teams, without quality coaches, many of these young people would see their dreams of college playing shattered before they even started.

Harris had many, many graduating players on his team and continued to play. Many went on to become high-achieving college players. His work and the service he provided to these athletes was outstanding and cannot be overstated. He also did a ton of recruiting in Rhode Island and some of his best players were locals. What he has accomplished at the CIRB is incredible and the Knights will have their hands full to replace him.

As for Diggs, he became the best young high school coach in the state during his three-year run with the Thunderbolts. Despite being in his twenties, Diggs operated like a seasoned veteran and took a mediocre team and turned it into a playoff contender in a single season. His last two years, the Bolts reached the playoffs and Open State Tournament with rosters that played beyond themselves.

For his impact, he was twice named the division’s Coach of the Year and helped this ordinary team become a factor in the United States.

I have always enjoyed working with Diggs. He is pleasant and connects very well with his players. It’s evident beyond the performance on the pitch. He also coaches the East men’s volleyball team and guided them to the semi-finals in his first season at the helm.

He is one of those coaches who have the magic touch. He understands how to connect with young athletes and how to motivate and keep them engaged. It’s impressive to see him do it too at such a young age, usually kids his age struggle because they’re still maturing.

It will be interesting to watch him coach at the Division I collegiate level. Obviously, he has a long way to go before he is a full-time coach, but considering how quickly he has risen to his new position, he shows that it is certainly in his future if he wishes. He has performed beyond high school level and deserves a chance at a big club. I am very happy for him.

As for East, we will see who will take over but he or she will also have big shoes to fill. The team also graduated a few key players, so we’ll see how that goes. On the bright side, Diggs’ influence should pay dividends for the returns and they’re set up to succeed.

Next topic… Connie Mack baseball. We are in the middle of the state playoffs and I have to tip my cap to the league for their use of their website.

Although the league’s website was inactive during the regular season, it was refreshed last week at the start of the playoffs and was updated daily. After each match, the final scores were quickly released along with a few lines of stats and how things went. They posted team photos, schedules and it was very easy to follow. We had three teams competing and at the time of this writing there were two left, so this website has been a great resource.

I wish every sports league had websites like this. Of course, every league has a social media site or page, but I wish they would provide the information on that. All the information is provided by the coaches after each match and an admin hops on the site to upload it. As simple as that.

Especially in the summer months with Little League All-Stars, Connie Mack, American Legion we have so many teams and although some leagues are better than others there are times when it’s hard to find something something as basic as a final score.

The Rhode Island Interscholastic League does a very good job in this regard. There are hundreds of teams each season to watch, so it’s harder, but overall they do a good job of providing rosters, scores, and standings.

As for those little summer leagues, they should take that into account. Coaches ask all the time how they can get their team noticed when I can’t be there, and honestly a central website where there are regular updates is the best way. Of course, I encourage my coaches to contact me directly, but I’d love to see more sites follow suit with Connie Mack


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