The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

July 14, 2013

Eyes wide open

As Matt Vespa takes over boys program at Geneva, he knows how the situation stands

Matt Vespa knows what he’s getting into when taking over the Geneva boys basketball program.

The Eagles have won just two games over the past two seasons, but that doesn’t mean Vespa is any less excited about the prospects of returning Geneva to the winning program it once was.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “I did actually hear (warnings) from a couple people when I received the offer. They were supportive, but surprised (I took the job). I take that as a challenge and I embrace it. I think we can win here. I kind of have an idea of how we wanna play and they’ve done a great job responding (this summer).

“If you wanna be great, and I wanna be great at coaching, you have to face challenges. Nothing comes easy.”

Vespa comes to Geneva from South, where he served as a varsity assistant for the past four years.

A 2002 graduate of North, Vespa is certainly familiar not only with the Eagles’ program, but also the competition he will be up against playing in the always-difficult Premier Athletic Conference.

“The PAC is a pretty good conference,” he said. “There’s a lot of really good teams and I know a lot of these coaches so I get a sense about what these schools have. North has tough kids, South typically has athletes, all these teams kind of have an identify.

“A couple of these guys are coming back as coaches that I played against. So I’m familiar with these guys not just as player but now as peers.”

As an assistant at South, Vespa had a front-row seat to see the Eagles play twice a year over the last four seasons.

While he didn’t always see a winning team, he saw players who had the qualities of a winning team.

“I saw kids that play hard all the time, I know that’s kind of a cliché, but we would talk all the time on the bench at South, like, ‘man, these kids play really hard,’” he said. “I think they can win. There’s not a ton of size but I’ll take hard-working kids over tall kids any day.

“In the little bit of time we’ve been together it’s been a very pleasant surprise. Anything we ask them to do they’re ready to go.”

While he knows his team won’t be the tallest, Vespa does know how he wants them to play under his watch.

“We want to be disruptive when we play,” he said. “We can’t do that with size per say, but they’re pretty quick, athletic, hard-nosed kids. The word VCU uses, and we’re going to use, it’s ‘cause havoc.’ Whatever other teams do, we wanna cause havoc. That’s a style they’re embracing.

“It takes a while to learn how to do that and play like that for an entire game but they’re doing a good job.”

To play that style, Vespa said his players need to learn how to push themselves out of their comfort zone.

“I use the word process all the time with the kids because we’re learning how to play basketball hard,” he said. “I know that sounds easy, but most don’t’ know how to do it. We gotta learn it. We have to get comfortable being uncomfortable and pushing ourselves. There’s not a lot of players willing to do that.

“We’re learning how to practice then you learn how to compete. Then you learn how to beat teams you’re better than and eventually, you learn to beat teams you’re not better than.”

Vespa said he feels his time as an assistant coach has him well prepared to take over his own program.

“It was a great experience, I worked for two different head coaches and learned a lot from both of those guys about basketball and how to run the program,” he said. “That’s kind of the most shocking thing — just learning how to run a program.

“But it’s been great for me. I played in the PAC, now I coach in the PAC. I see different things from different teams and I’ve learned a lot.”

While Vespa hasn’t put any win-loss goals on his team for his first season, he said his biggest goal is to have teams not look forward to playing the Eagles.

“I don’t want people to look at Geneva and say, ‘OK, good, we get to play Geneva,’” he said. “I want teams to not want to play us. If that happens, then you’re winning and you’re playing the right way.”

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Coming attractions

    While it seems only yesterday school was letting out and summer vacation was starting, the time for respite will have the curtain drop for area high school football players this week.

    July 28, 2014

  • AREA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SCRIMMAGES:

    TUESDAY, AUG. 12

    • Lake Catholic at Perry (10)

    July 28, 2014

  • Lexi Outlaws gunning for national title in Virginia

    There’s gold in their name and that’s just what the Ohio Outlaws Gold softball squad is gunning for at the USA-ASA 16-and-under Nationals this week in Salem, Va.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • Brandon Easton A Don McCormack column:Easton on right pitch in Florida

    Paying a Monday morning visit to the variety store...

    Firing away
    The second summer as a professional baseball player has been an excellent one for Brandon Easton, to this point.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • Dale Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: OEW doing good job of passing it on

    On July 18, 19 and 20, the Ashtabula County Wildlife Conservation League (ACWCL) along with Ashtabula Rod & Gun Club (ARGC) held their annual OEW (Outdoor Education Weekend) Weekend.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kaydee Vaulting to The Rock

    When Jefferson’s Kaydee DeVivo first started pole vaulting as a freshman for the Falcons, she knew it was the event for her.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • run VanHoy racing on

    Geneva track star Hailey VanHoy had a near unbelievable run of success during her final months running for the Eagles.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Danielle Zip-ing along

    Just minutes after Geneva’s Danielle Nicholson holed out on the 18th green at the Gray Course at Ohio State University during her freshman year to win the 2011 Division I state championship, the recruitment process of where she would go to college began.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Maruna headed for Mount

    LeeAnn Maruna never really expected to play collegiate golf. She was so taken aback when the opportunity presented itself, she didn’t know how to respond. After all, the Grand Valley graduate had only been playing the game for a few years.

    July 23, 2014

  • Crate Late Models featured

    The Evergreen Lake Park Campground Crate Late Models, the premier class at Raceway 7, will be featured Friday night as they race for $1,000 to win.

    July 23, 2014

Little League All-Stars July 1 to 12
AP NASCAR Lastest News
AP NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule
AP NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings
AP Auto Racing Photos
West Side Shootout 2014
Ashtabula County at State Track Meet
Jefferson vs Akron St. Vincent St. Mary Regional Softball
District Track 2014
Jefferson District Softball Tournament
Bob Walters 50 Years
Geneva vs Perry Division II District Semifinal
Sports Week in Review May 12 to May 17
Sports Week in Review May 5 to May 10 2014
Sports Week in Review April 28 to May 3
Sports Video Archive
House Ads
AP Video