NEW WILMINGTON — The picture hangs on a wall by the gym, a reminder of the glory years of Westminster College basketball.
Second-year Titans coach Kevin Siroki can't wait to take it down.
“I was a senior playing basketball here when (current Mars hoop coach) Rob Carmody was a sophomore,” Siroki said. “We've been friends for years.
“Rob's senior year was one of the best basketball seasons ever here. That team was 25-3 and fantastic.”
The picture of Carmody in a Titans uniform has been there for years. Two of Carmody's former players at Mars — point guard Garrett Ashbaugh and forward Matt Getsy — are seeing playing time as freshmen for the Titans this year.
“We visited here in the first place because of him,” Ashbaugh said of his high school coach. “We have so much respect for him and he suggested we check the place out.
“We fell in love with it. Playing basketball at the same college our high school coach played, trying to live up to his legacy ... It's awesome.”
Westminster is off to a 1-10 start this season. Eight of the 11 players on the roster are freshmen.
The 6-foot-4 Getsy is averaging 20 minutes per game while the 5-11 Ashbaugh is seeing 10 to 15 minutes per contest. Both have started a handful of games.
“I never thought I'd play much, if at all, as a freshman,” Getsy said. “But once I got here and saw how many freshmen we have on the team ... We're growing and learning together.”
Their ultimate goal is to win a Presidents' Athletic Conference championship, get to the NCAA Division III Tournament — and replace Carmody's picture with a team championship photo.
“Oh, it's coming down,” Ashbaugh said, laughing. “It has to come down.”
“Maybe we can have a ceremony at a Mars game and present it to him there,” Siroki said, only half-kidding.
A third Mars graduate — senior forward Steve Cress — was supposed to be part of this Westminster team as well. After battling injuries and overcoming testicular cancer over the past couple of years, Cress' hoop comeback was derailed when he tore his ACL 10 minutes into his first practice Dec. 15.
Cress is the second-leading scorer in Mars history with 1,208 points.
“He battles all the way back and then that happens,” Siroki said. “His experience would have been such a plus.
“You feel for the guy. At 23, he's already been through so much.”
Cress recalled working with Getsy and Ashbaugh at Mars basketball camps when they were junior high players.
“He was always one of my favorites because he could dunk,” said Getsy, who can dunk the ball himself. “I idolized him. I couldn't wait to get the chance to finally play ball with him for a year.”
“It would have been awesome playing with him,” Ashbaugh said. “We were looking forward to it. Steve would have been one of our leaders, for sure.”
Cress has yet to undergo surgery for the torn ACL and hasn't ruled out playing again.