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Beloit Memorial Gets Fresh Start Under New Coach Todd Marks
BELOIT—A change at the head coaching position of a struggling program often is bad news for the upper classmen still on the roster.
Looking for a change in culture and some longer-range continuity, the new coach often looks at newcomers as the answer.
Todd Marks says his Beloit Memorial seniors—there are 13 on the roster—have already been challenged to put in the work needed for a turnaround at the Barkin Arena.
“I told the seniors that this is your team and you determine how you want it to be,” Marks said. “I’m not talking about wins and losses. How do you want to establish what the culture and the expectations are going to be? It sounds simple, but it’s a matter of coming to practice every day and working hard every day. That’s taking care of business. If guys aren’t willing to do that we are going to look down the line because we do have guys at the lower levels who are hungry.”
The Knights haven’t been a factor in the Big Eight since Jay Bryant retired to Florida after the 2016-17 season when they were 11-7 in conference and 15-9 overall. They were 6-19 a year under the combination of Charlie Cavous and Dakota Lindsey, continuing a downward trend.
Tim Richert had coached a 6-17 team in 2017-18 followed by a 7-38 mark the following two seasons under Dondre Bell.
Marks was hired after successful runs at both Bloomer High School and Eau Claire North, where he took over a program that went 1-22 in 2014-15 and after going 9-14 his first year, did not have another losing season.
Marks and his Knights have their work cut out for them in the rugged Big Eight, starting with learning his offense.
“We’re going to have to be solid on the defensive end because we are a work in progress offensively,” Marks said. “We’re still implementing our offense and learning how to read off each other and play off each other. We’re going to have to really dig in defensively and get some stops and hopefully get some transition going for some easier baskets.”
The Knights graduated most of the top scorers from last season, including Shaquille Roman, Nahcere Abdur-Rasheed and Davion Bland. Senior guard Fazion Farr is back and should play a prominent role.
“I saw most of these guys this summer and this fall so I have an idea of some guys who we’re going to count on,” Marks said. “But you never know until when the lights really come on. This may be a year when we have some guys who are pretty even and it depends on what we need on a given night.
“I think Fazion (Farr) is a guy who has established himself,” Marks said. “Baylor Denu, Tyrone Carl, Elias Clark, Chris Woods, Rico Yarbrough they are all seniors who are working hard. Jyrell Cousins is a junior who is a good player who we’re looking forward to taking a step.”
Farr was one of the Knights’ better outside shooters a year ago and will be counted on to help stretch defenses this season.
“The big thing for us is that we have to get our kids competing on every possession, whether things are going well or if they’re not, fighting through that adversity,” Marks said. “If our guys can stay the course and compete rather than take a step back and falter, then we can turn this around quicker.”
While Marks is willing to give his seniors a shot, he also is keeping a freshman on the varsity—6-foot Amare Hereford.
“It will be a baptism for him this year, but he is going to be a good player and a good leader,” the coach said.
The Knights open at future Southern Lakes Conference foe Badger in Lake Geneva on Tuesday at 7 p.m. They have two more road games that week, at Sun Prairie West for their Big Eight opener on Dec. 1 and at Verona on 2:30 Dec. 3. Their first home game is Dec. 6 against Janesville Craig.
“We have some tough games right away,” Marks said. “Plus we have some players sitting out for the first week, a couple are for grades and a couple are attendance issues. It’s all part of the deal.”