Finley ushered in as new PB boys’ coach

When newly appointed head boys basketball coach Clarence Finley was introduced Tuesday night inside the Pine Bluff High School cafeteria, the first person he wanted to thank was his wife, Leticia.

“She’s the point guard, she runs the show,” Finley said. “We are looking forward to it. She is really excited about coming into the program.

“… She’s more of a football fan than a basketball fan so she may get onto the coaches more than I will.”

Finley and his wife have been married for 40 years.

“She’s an all-around sports fan,” Finley said.

Finley, who was named the Pine Bluff head coach last week, is excited for the future of the program.

“One of the things I am most excited about is being a teacher,” Finley said. “And making sure these kids get a good education.

“I’m looking forward to working with these young men.”

Finley was an associate head coach at Central Arkansas under Corliss Williamson for three seasons. He took charge of the Bears in the interim after Williamson left to accept an assistant coaching role with the Sacramento Kings.

The Bears went 8-21 and 5-13 this season, and Finley was not retained.

“The college experience doesn’t really matter to me as much as what kind of man he is,” Pine Bluff athletic director Bobby Bolding said. “Visiting with him today, he’s a sharp guy and a hard worker.

“I look forward to picking his brain and seeing what kind of things I can pick up. Because coaching is coaching, doesn’t matter the sport.”

Finley coached previously at Little Rock Parkview, Little Rock Hall and Little Rock Central, and served as an assistant under three different coaches at Arkansas-Little Rock.

Bolding said he spent about an hour on Tuesday visiting with Finley.

“I just thought he was energetic and excited about our basketball program,” Bolding said. “I look forward to watching him coach.”

Finley was the head coach at Central in 2001-02 and led the Tigers to a state runner-up spot. He also helped Parkview to two state championships during his tenure under coach Charles Ripley.

“I think what will help me more (than the college experience) is being an assistant for Coach Ripley for 10 years,” Finley said.

He also helped the Trojans win the Sun Belt championship and make an appearance in the NIT in 1995-96 under coach Wimp Sanderson.

“For us, the most important thing is to work as a family and as a team,” Finley said. “… And to remember to always keep the kids best interest at heart.”

Finley replaces interim coach Carl Smith who went 31-20 in two years with the Zebras. Smith led Pine Bluff to an 11-3 conference finish last season and to a second-round state playoff appearance.

Smith replaced Ronald Moragne who officially retired from the district on Jan. 31, 2013 due to heal problems including aseptic meningitis.

At this time, it is not known whether Smith will stay on as an assistant. On Tuesday, Bolding said he did not know, stating it “is above my pay grade.”