New boys’ hoops coach looks for quickness and excitement in first season

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Photo: Lily Condron

Boys’ Varsity Basketball Head Coach Blair Albright watches players shoot hoops at the first day of tryouts.

Fairmont’s new Varsity Boys’ Basketball coach doesn’t make a lot of predictions about the coming season, but he does promise one thing: Fans will see a fast style of play that will be exciting to watch.

Blair Albright became the Firebird coach following the resignation of Hank Bias at the end of the 2012-13 basketball season. In Bias’ 13 years at the helm, the Firebirds went 146-165 and finished 11-31 in the past two seasons.

Albright is excited to be at Fairmont and eager to get the season started. “I’m grateful to come in and utilize the opportunity to grow Fairmont’s basketball program,” he said. “Based on what I see, I think we’ll have a great opportunity for some accomplishments this year.”

Albright has coached basketball for 15 years, nine of them as a head coach. He had a young start to his coaching career, beginning when he was only 19 years old. His job was as an assistant coach at his alma mater, St. Francis DeSales High School, near Columbus, Ohio. Five years later, he left to become an assistant coach at the University of Chicago. A year later, St. Francis DeSales lured him back with an offer to become head coach, a position he held for 9 years.

At DeSales, a Division II school in the Central Catholic League, Albright compiled a record of 155-63 overall and 62-22 in league play. He led them to 3 State Final 4 appearances, 3 Regional Championships, 4 District Championships, a Regional Runner-up, 2 District Runners-up and 9 Sectional Championships.

Albright said he thinks some of Fairmont’s difficulties have been rooted in the fact that many of the Firebirds’ basketball opponents put very good teams on the floor. “Based on the quality of the opponents on our schedule, we’ll have little room for error if we expect to be successful,” Albright said.

Albright hopes to turn the Fairmont program around, and his strategies include taking advantage of the 3-point shot, picking up the pace of play and allowing more versatility in how Fairmont plays the game.

The coach said he’s been impressed by the number of players who can score from beyond the 3-point arc. “This team has the ability to shoot 3-point shots, so we need to try and utilize it as much as possible,” Albright said.

Also, Albright said the offense he will implement will allow for versatility in how Fairmont makes plays and manages games. This goes hand-in-hand with the coach’s plan to have a faster style of play. “I believe that our style of play will not only be fun for our players, but also for our students and fans.”

Chris Beatty, a senior on the team, seems pumped about playing a faster game. “Albright’s coaching style is to get the ball out and run, to get it to the hoop as fast as possible,” he said.

Senior Greg Bergman agreed that this year’s faster style of play will be more exciting for fans to watch, and he seems optimistic about the coming season. “We have a great chance of changing the recent losing streak under the coaching of Albright,” Bergman said.

Speaking of seniors, Albright said he’s counting on them to help the team succeed. “I really feel strongly about our seniors and their ability to lead in the upcoming season,” he said.

Bergman said he believes that even though Coach Albright is new, he’ll still be able to retain the level of respect Coach Bias had. “I believe that Coach Albright is a smart and intelligent coach, and that will definitely bring him some respect from the players,” Bergman said.

The Firebird boys begin play on Nov. 29 at Trotwood-Madison, and the first home game is Dec. 3 against Miamisburg. “I’m excited to get the season started and to see what Fairmont’s team can achieve,” Albright said.

He also asked for support from the community to come out and cheer on the team. “In 10 years, I believe Fairmont has a great opportunity to become the perennial Division I powerhouse in the area. The overall quality of the school along with the support of the community and the first-class resources provide a perfect platform to build upon,” Albright said.