Alston isn’t one to expect immediate success, but progress is another matter.
Despite a 0-16 record in Bishop Loughlin’s first season back in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I, the newly hired Lions girls basketball coach believes the program is making strides. Alston, who has been at the school for the last four years, coached the JV team to a 6-7 league record and berth in the league’s semifinals last year and was on the first bench for two consecutive trips to the Division II finals.
“That shows progress,” he said of his junior varsity. “Nothing happens overnight. St. Michael [Academy] wasn’t built over night. They didn’t win their first [state Federation] title until last year and they lost this year.”
The infusion of talented JV players will add to a solid varsity core that includes his daughter Aliyah, a sophomore guard,and forward Simone Charles. Last season the Lions finished the season with just six players after the team’s senior had a disagreement with former coach Rocco Romano.
Alston, the seventh B/Q Division I coach hired in the last two years, said it made practices tough, since they could not scrimmage. It also left them with just one sub in a league that includes Christ the King, Bishop Ford, Mary Louis, Archbishop Molloy and now a Nazareth team coached by former St. Mike’s coach Apache Paschall. Alston, Paschall and Ford coach Mike Toro all have ties to the Exodus AAU program.
“Just having a bench is going to help,” said Alston, the school’s fourth coach in the last five seasons. “The substitutes are going to make the starters play harder knowing they can be subbed out.”
His next task will be to assemble a staff. Alston would like to bring current Lafayette assistant and Lady X-Men AAU coach Jahar Vann on as assistant coach. Vann and head coach Kareem Benson helped lead Lafayette to the PSAL Class B city title in 2009.
“I wouldn’t mind working with Jahar, having him under my wing, and him being one of the assistants on the varsity level,” Alston said. “He does well with the kids out in Brooklyn.”
Alston believed he could have had a shot at his current job two seasons ago, but both he and Loughlin athletic director Angela Proce agreed he wasn’t ready then. The commitment to his job as a union sheet metal worker was also a concern and he supported Romano taking over. This time around he wanted to keep continuity in the programs and accomplish things all involved can be proud of.
“If we never become that powerhouse school that I want us to be,” Alston said, “as long as the kids compete, grow academically and athletically and these kids go on to college, we are successful.”