Interim Head Coach Harold Clay Shows Great Poise Leading Morehouse to a 4 Game Winning Streak
Photo by Juwan Lee
By: Miles Johnson, Managing Editor
Under short notice, Harold Clay ‘17 was named the interim head coach of his alma mater due to health complications from head coach Doug Whittler, but this was a moment that Coach Clay was ready for his whole life.
The Maroon Tigers are riding on a four game win streak after beating Fort Valley St. and Albany St. in back-to-back wins.
“Feels good just wanna keep taking it one game at a time,” Coach Clay said. “It’s good to be on a streak’ but we’re taking it one game at a time to keep that streak.”
Coach Clay quickly took the reins as interim head coach shortly after the Morehouse vs. Clark Atlanta game. He talked about reacting to the news of him being thrusted into this position under limited time, and being able to gut out a tough road win against Fort Valley St.
“I was extremely nervous until about the 3-4 for minute mark in the 1st half and then all my jitters dropped down,” Clay said. “After that been confident I’m a calm coach, when I yell I get a headache so I just chill and try to coach as best as I can, not trying to do too much and just keep the guys energized the whole game.”
Senior Forward, Kerry Richardson, had a season high 22 points and 12 rebounds in a win the Maroon Tigers’ last win against the Fort Valley Wildcats.
“Coach Clay has a different type of coaching style,” Richardson said. “He’s really poised and he trust us a lot. A lot of the players feel very comfortable when we out there because he put all his trust in us and we got the job done.”
Harold Clay, a Detroit native, graduated Morehouse as a Kinesiology major with honors. In addition, he was heavily involved in Morehouse’s basketball program as a student.
Clay tried out for the team, but he did not make the cut. However, he was awarded an opportunity to become the team’s manager. Ultimately, this decision to stick around the basketball program led to his career in coaching.
“I didn’t want to get into coaching,” Clay said. “I wanted to play basketball, but Coach Brewer and Coach Whittler cut me from the basketball team. I was getting ready to be a regular student, and then Eric ‘Tiger’ Turner actually told me there’s a team manager position available so you can stick around the team. My first three years I was a student manager and my senior year is when I became a student assistant coach.”
Clay went on to get his masters of science from Michigan State. His love for basketball remained, and he shadowed the great, Tom Izzo and the Spartan’s basketball program.
Although this opportunity for Clay to be named interim head coach came at an impromptu time, his experiences in basketball helped prepare him for this moment. After learning at Michigan State, he went back to his alma mater to work on coach Whittler’s staff as an assistant coach. Whittler showed him the ropes in the event that Clay would have to lead the squad.
“A lot of the times I’m able to do a lot of stuff in practice,” Clay said. “During the season I ran the entire offense. My main thing now was just picking up the defense.”
Junior guard, Ibn Williams finished with 19 points and seven rebounds in their home win against Fort Valley. He talked about what coach Clay’s leadership has meant for the team, while battling through adversity with coach Whittler being out indefinitely.
“His leadership has been great,” Williams said. “He’s done a great job letting us figure out things on the court and not treating it like a dictatorship. I applaud him for that.”
The Maroon Tiger are currently 11-8 and 8-6 in conference play. They sit at 3rd place in the SIAC east and with seven games left in the season, Clay has high expectations for the Maroon Tigers moving forward to make a playoff push. Morehouse’s next game is a SIAC matchup, at Edward Walters.
Copy Edited By Marlon “MJ” Scottt