At 33 years old, Moravia’s Todd Mulvaney has already had more success than many coaches experience in a career.
He has guided the Blue Devils boys to a 103-30 record in six seasons, including three Section 4 titles and two trips to Glens Falls for the Class C state semifinals. It would seem natural for a coach like Mulvaney to have aspirations of coaching at a higher level, but Mulvaney says no to that.
“I care too much about our kids and our community to ever have any other aspirations,” he said. “I’m very happy where I am.”
And why not? Mulvaney graduated from Moravia in 1998, was a star player under former coach Scott Langtry — with whom he still communicates during the season — and he has helped develop a feeder system of youth programs that will help sustain a program that Mulvaney has turned into a perennial winner.
“The community is awesome, I have a great coaching staff with me and I adore our kids,” he said. “From our varsity team all the way down to our youth kids, they’re all just great kids to work with and you couldn’t ask for anything more.”
For guiding the Blue Devils to their second state Final Four appearance in four seasons and third sectional title over that span, Mulvaney has been selected as Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year for the 2012-13 season by the sports staffs of The Ithaca Journal, the Star-Gazette in Elmira and the Press & Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton. It marks the third time in the past four seasons for Mulvaney has been so honored.
After last season’s subpar 12-8 finish, Mulvaney laid out a plan for getting back to championship form.
“We had a postseason meeting and focused on the things we needed to improve on, to get to where we wanted to be,” he said. “And the kids had a great summer, did some really good things and worked really hard. They had some good showings in the tournaments that we played in, so I knew that some good things could happen.”
Mulvaney entered his team in a summer league at Cayuga Community College, as well as several tournaments in the region. The Blue Devils played about 60 games from May through the middle of August, Mulvaney said.
“We didn’t really have an expectation to win this or win that,” he said, “it was just to play to the best of our ability and try to put ourselves in the best situation possible each game.”
This season was marked by some impressive victories and championships:
* A 55-51 defeat of Odessa-Montour in the Interscholastic Athletic Conference Small School title game;
* A 52-41 victory against Watkins Glen in the sectional final;
* A 65-42 pounding of Section 3 champion Beaver River in the state regionals.
But it was one of their three losses this season — a 72-45 loss to Whitney Point in January — that did more to shape the team’s identity and forge its winning attitude than any of its 22 wins.
Mulvaney had a “heart-to-heart” talk with his club (“I guess you could call it that,” he said with a laugh) and detailed some of the things that needed to be done.
“We were at the lowest point of the season,” he said. “But I think it highlighted the things we needed to work on, and if we wanted to go on and do something in the postseason, we had to get better at those things. From that point on, there was a focus every day in practice, and the kids just got better and better.”
After “the talk,” things changed.
“That definitely opened our eyes,” said senior Dylan Powers. “… after that loss, he told us that we needed to keep improving because every other team was going to improve and we had to do the same.”
Practices got more intense, and all nine players bought into the idea of defending their basket. Indeed, during its 10-game win streak that followed the Whitney Point game, the Blue Devils yielded 402 points.
The loss in Glens Falls was painful, to be sure. But that pain was eased somewhat a few days later, when he was coaching a group of youth players.
“That’s the fun part, I love working with our young kids,” he said. “We have programs set up for as young as first grade, and we get them involved as young as possible, trying to teach them how fun the game of basketball is. And I really love doing that.
“We’re wrapping things up this week with our youth programs,” he said, “and I tell you — it really got me out of the funk of losing at Glens Falls. It just gives you a breath of fresh air.”