Today: Mar 03, 2024

Catching up with an Owls captain

Photo courtesy Southernctowls.com
Harris has been an important piece of the mens basketball program’s turnaround.

PAT LONGOBARDISports Writer

Chris Harris has always had that positive attitude on his side to back him up.

The Owls’ senior point guard from Brooklyn, N.Y. was named captain prior to the 2011-12 season, and has made his presence felt by coming off of the bench and helping to improve the program.

Harris said he didn’t expect to be named the captain this season.

“It was an honor because of how much I invested, personally, into basketball,” he said. “We were 4-50 in the first two years, and it turned around so quickly. I have respect for the coaching staff. What they’ve done in 18 months was unexpected and very hard. [Head coach Michael Donnelly’s] system fits, and his up-and-down-style game.

Harris said he has embraced his role as mentor to the younger members of the team.

“I love my teammates like my brothers. They have an amazing amount of potential. By their junior year, they are going to be special and take that leap to the top of the conference and be feared and respected.”

Last season, Donnelly said he had no captain because he wanted to wait and see who could establish themselves. Donnelly said Harris has been the spokesperson the team can rely on, which has played a big role in the decision to give him the captain role.

Harris has had to adjust this season to the emergence of the three freshman guards—Kyle Callanan, Luke Houston and Tylon Smith. ALl three were given the opportunity to start in the beginning of the season continue playing significant minutes.

Donnelly said Harris has been very positive and excited to be around a new change into a possible winning program as the Owls are looking to make the first round of the Northeast-10 Conference tournament this week.

“Chris is a great guy,” Donnelly said. “He is easy to talk to and easy to get along with. He has a bright future. He knows the league and players to be successful. It could pay dividends to have a senior to rely on. We expect him to play a big role for us. It was a lot of work to change the culture. We met with each to see if it (program) was a good fit for both. He was on board from day one. He was vocal about it and never questioned it.

“He started in a lot of games in his career. What kid does not want to start in their senior year? He has been a big help with the freshmen. They like Chris a lot personally. He has been very helpful on the bench. It is a tough decision. I am grateful.”

As of Feb. 14, Harris has played in 18 games this season, starting in two. Harris is also averaging 2.1 points and 9.5 minutes per game. He led the Owls in assists the last three seasons and played in 75 games in his first three seasons. Harris attended Boys and Girls Club High School who was ranked in the USA Today and ESPN Top 25, and he also served as team captain as well.

“Chris is a great kid,” assistant coach Mike Makubika said. “He has a lot of energy. He is a hard worker, resilient and loyal. He is defensive-minded on the full court. He is like a water bug, he is full of energy. He has been a spark plug off of the bench. Chris has great character. He was helped with recruiting. He has hosted guys and their parents and showed them around campus. He was willing to host those competing for playing time.”

Harris said when he was being recruited that Southern was his choice because they offered him a starting role right away. Things did not turn out like he would have liked as the Owls were 4-50 in his first two years.

When Donnelly came to Southern, he helped changed things immediately with one of the best single season turnarounds in the country. The Owls had a 12-15 record, and 9-13 in the Northeast-10 Conference before appearing in the conference tournament for the first time since the 2001 season.

“[Making the tournament] was great for the program,” Harris said. “Kieran [Ramsey] and I invested so much. It made people look at us around campus and the community and respect the players. The program is way better. They are great, selfless guys. [the coaching staff] brought in great players.”

Donnelly said his favorite moment of Harris was when he received a last-minute start the night before the opening game of the 2010-11 season against Chestnut Hill.

“He did exceptionally well,” he said. We had a great start [to the season] and Chris played a major role in that.

“He has great speed, with or without the ball. He pushes up the floor in transition. We are a transition team. He is best on the defensive side of the ball. He has helped during the year and he will continue to help. He picks up full court like no one else.”

Harris has also coached in basketball camps over the years, and he will continue coaching with AAU basketball. Harris is a sports management major and he said that he will look for his dream job of being some kind of coach at the collegiate level

“Chris is a people person,” Donnelly said. “I can see him as mentoring or in a coach role. He gets along with everybody. He has a lot to offer to people. He knows how to relate to people.”

Ramsey, SCSU senior forward, said Harris always left his passion on the court and that will help lead him in the future.

“We came in both as a freshman,” he said. “We bonded immediately as the only freshman. He loved basketball. Chris is very local and he is a great player and he loves to play defense. I love playing with him. He has stayed positive (this season). You know that when his number is called, he gives all he’s got. He is all about the team. As a captain, he gives 110 percent. He has great character which has made him a winner on and off of the court.”

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