Summer school for Shrewsbury hoopsters

Shrewsbury – School may have ended the middle of last month, but the educational process has continued for the high school students playing in the Worcester summer basketball league at historic Crompton Park.

The team entered play this week with an 0-6 record, but wins and losses, coach Jose Cruz Sr. was quick to point out, are the least important statistics in summer basketball.

"We've got a lot of new faces we're working into the team," Cruz said. "There were eight seniors on last year's [Shrewsbury High School] varsity team that aren't playing with us this summer so there are a lot of kids on the team that are playing together for the first time."

Other hurdles the team has faced this summer have included the juggling of work schedules that have resulted in just five or six players showing up for games, despite there being 14 players on the roster. In addition, Cruz is installing an up-tempo off ense that the varsity and junior varsity teams plan to employ during the upcoming high school season.

"The guys are really struggling with the concept of the new off ense," Cruz said. "We want to run on offense and that means pushing the ball up court – all the time – not only when you think the fast break is there. We want to push the ball after made baskets by the other team just as much as we want to push the ball after misses by the other team."

Eight of the 14 players on Cruz's roster played on the Shrewsbury High varsity last year, including seniors-to-be Pat Russell, Mike Okayka, Sam Ardis and John Phillips, juniors-to-be John Justiano and Paul Speicher, and sophomores to-be Colby Reese and Jose Cruz Jr.

Other players on the summer league roster are juniors-to-be Curt Harrington and Nick Lottridge and sophomores-to-be Joe Aulenback, Brendan Teebagy, John Surabian and Brad Diamantopoulos.

Russell, Speicher, Lottridge, Reese and Aulenback plan to be shooting guards while Justiano and Surabian are expected to play point guard. Playing a forward position will be Ardis, Phillips, Harrington, Cruz Jr. and Diamantopoulos, while Okayka will line up at center. Teebagy will play both the shooting guard and forward positions.

So far this season Russell has led the way off ensively, averaging 16 points per game, while Cruz Jr. has been the team's leading rebounder, grabbing eight caroms per game.

Cruz Sr. said the decision to re-make the team into one that plays an up-tempo style was made after much deliberation by the coaching staff .

"Last year we wanted to play up-tempo, too, because we wanted to take advantage of our team speed and quickness," Cruz Sr. said, "but we really couldn't because we had some players who just couldn't get up and down the floor fast enough to allow us to play that way. This year that's not the case."

The coach explained that the up-tempo style will also be employed on defense, via a harassing, ball-hawking pressing approach that he expects will force the opposition into numerous turnovers each game.

"We're struggling defensively, too," Cruz Sr. added. "We're allowing the other team to score about 60 points a game. That's way too much."

Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=231

Posted by on Jul 27 2007. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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