One week before the start of Western State Conference play, the Moorpark College men's basketball team lost its head coach for an indefinite period of time after McCarthy underwent spinal surgery Wednesday at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura.
"They're a terrific group of kids," said McCarthy last week. "You don't try to get out of coaching this team.
"We're 10-4, it's not like we're 4-10... If you're 4-10 you might say, 'Well, jeez, my neck hurts."
Neurosurgeon Dr. Moustapha Abou-Samra removed the herniated C5-C6 disc in McCarthy's neck and fused the remaining space.
Moorpark athletic director Howard Davis termed the surgery "perfect." McCarthy, in his 12th season as Moorpark head coach, was in recovery by the time the Raiders tipped off against visiting Miramar College at Raider Pavilion.
Moorpark, ranked No. 20 in the state coach's poll, fell to 0-3 without McCarthy with an 87-80 loss.
A time table for his return isn't set, but McCarthy was confident he could leave the team in the hands of his veteran assistant, Mick Cady. The Raiders also added three more assistant coaches this season, Marvin Lea, Greg Murphy and Kenny Plummer.
Moorpark (10-5) visits College of the Sequoias Saturday in Visalia before opening WSC North play Wednesday with a visit from Hancock College. McCarthy's return isn't scheduled, but he isn't expected to be available for those games.
"You don't have to be a neurosurgeon to know that you're not going to Visalia three days after having your disk removed," said McCarthy.