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Mike McGarvey Leading Lycoming Hoops

Following an outstanding career as a player at Ursinus College, where he was a consecutive two-time All-American and two-time Centennial Conference Player of the Year and eleven years as an assistant basketball coach at Ursinus and Colgate University, Mike McGarvey was named Lycoming College men’s basketball coach this past June. With a non-conference opening mark

Following an outstanding career as a player at Ursinus College, where he was a consecutive two-time All-American and two-time Centennial Conference Player of the Year and eleven years as an assistant basketball coach at Ursinus and Colgate University, Mike McGarvey was named Lycoming College men’s basketball coach this past June.

With a non-conference opening mark of 4-1 and on the eve of opening Middle Atlantic Conference play last week hosting Albright, McGarvey sat down with Webb Weekly to share his thoughts on his new position.

WW: What led to your decision to pursue the coaching profession?

“I wanted to get into coaching because I couldn’t play any longer. After I was finished playing at Ursinus College, I had aspirations of playing professional basketball. When those opportunities weren’t as good as I’d hoped they would be I was fortunate to be offered a spot on the Ursinus staff. As a young 22-year-old when the head coach that you played for says ‘hey we’ve got a spot for you,’ I jumped at it. I was at a place where I was comfortable and understood the league. It took me two or three years to understand that this was something I wanted to do as a profession. Since then I’ve tried to grow as a coach and be the best I could be.”

WW: How have you grown as a coach?

“I was an assistant coach for 11 years at Ursinus and Colgate. There are different stages of coaching development. As a younger coach, you dedicate a lot of time to learning how to be a coach, learning what your voice is, learning how you like to play and taking things from other coaches. Then as you get a little bit older, you begin to understand the value of your impact on individuals and the players you get a chance to coach. For me, when I got a little bit more mature in the profession, I concentrated on the players finding ways to make each one a little bit better. When you do that you start to build relationships with the guys in the locker room and that gives you even more of a voice when you step on the court in practice. The last few years I thought I was getting pretty close to being ready to become a head coach. I would envision ‘what would my team look like?’

WW: What generated your interest in Lycoming College?

“I’ve known about Lycoming College for a long time. I’ve had family members attend Lycoming and being a Division III school in Pennsylvania you are familiar with the school. I had some friends in the coaching profession reach out to me, and I was aware of the job opening. I was pretty particular about what opportunities I would look at. I was looking for three things; 1) the academic liberal arts setting, 2) athletics and a department that really cares and 3) the community. When you look at all those three things combined Lycoming was the perfect setting for me.

“When I came in for the interview, talking with some of the administrators, president Trachte and Mike Clark got me more excited about the opportunity. With a young family, an opportunity to raise kids on campus and seeing the Williamsport area and the things you researched come to life it just felt like the right fit. I’m glad it was.”

WW: What challenges faced your arrival at Lycoming?

“The most immediate challenge was to develop a relationship with the players. We have a bunch of upperclassmen who have had a lot of success here with teams that have made runs at championships and been in the NCAA tournament. I didn’t recruit those guys and didn’t have a chance to have my voice be a part of their experience. Building those relationships was the first part of the process. The other thing was the style of play. Coach Rancourt had tons of success here winning over 180 games, but his style of play is slightly different than mine. So having a group of guys in the locker room that were used to one way and now would be changing to another way is always a little bit of a challenge. But basketball is basketball, and so far things are working out.”

WW: How would you describe your coaching style?

“This is a player’s game, and I understand that. As a player, I had a lot of success shooting the three-point shot and assisting the basketball on the offensive end. I bring that same kind of attitude, spreading the floor, sharing the ball and running a motion offense, reading what the defense gives you and making good decisions. We have the athleticism, speed and talent to compete against anyone on our schedule as long as we play the right way. I want my team to play for each other and make the right decisions, even if we are playing at a fast tempo. Sometimes we may have to slow down a bit to get that accomplished.”

WW: Have the players met your early expectations?

“Absolutely. They come to work every single day, and they’re trying to get better individually and collectively. That’s what my expectations were on day one, how we can get better today. I’m not looking at our record. What matters to me is how we are playing. Hopefully, the way we played in November will set us up to what the expectations of the group will be by the end of February. That’s to win a championship, and that is what our goal is.”

WW: How do you like the Williamsport area?

“I’ve got a little one, a two-year-old, with another one on the way, so that has kept us very busy. My wife is a physical therapist and just started working here in town. The move-in was a little bit hectic coming from central New York when school was starting, a new job and all the excitement. Quite honestly, the people of Williamsport and especially the people at Lycoming College have been really supportive of all of us and welcoming, which has made it very easy.”

WW: What would you say to a high school basketball player considering Lycoming College?

“First the individual must look at the college. You’ve got to want to be here for four years and understand what the degree will give to you. It is a community that is really supportive academically and athletically. The alumni support is fantastic, especially for men’s basketball players. So you will have a network once you graduate from here. As for the basketball end of it, are you committed to being the best you can be? One of the things I preach all the time is we have to try and maximize our individual potential academically, athletically and within the community. If any high school basketball player is thinking about those things on a daily basis, Lycoming College would be a great place for them.”

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