By Darren Lum
Published Nov. 15 2016
Not much is left after most of last year’s senior Red Hawks basketball team graduated including the coaching staff.
Consistent with the high school’s basketball program approach to have the same coaching staff work with one team for four years the seniors will be coached by last year’s junior coaching staff of head coach Paul Longo and assistants Sam Little and Dan LaPierre.
The program’s approach is to have one coaching staff work with the same group. Longo loves being able to continue to work with essentially the same group he had for the last two years.
This continuity is already apparent in early practices he said.
“With our Grade 11 guys they’re looking good. They understand what we’re doing” he said.
He adds in practice the team has been running the offence and it has “looked good” with few corrections.
“It’s really encouraging. We’ll just see how it all … it’s all a process. We’re building towards February” he said.
A new challenge for Longo’s team and all teams in the Kawartha High School Basketball League is a 35 second shot clock which is a FIBA (Fédération Internationale de Basketball) rule. The team with the ball has 35 seconds to make an attempt for a shot that must hit the rim to reset it. The shot clock starts once a player with the ball crosses half-court. Inability to do so will result in a shot clock violation resulting in loss of ball possession. Coincidentally the HHSS gym is already prepared because when it was built it included a pair of shot clocks one at each end of the gym on the wall.
Without a game played Longo and his coaching staff has appreciated what they have seen.
“We’re really happy and encouraged. There is a lot of hope here. We have some size. We got some speed. We got some smarts. We got some returning guys” he said.
The team that has drawn close to 20 players in its opening week has not only featured seven members of last year’s junior team but also two fifth year seniors such as point guard McKay Coneybeare and Sage Christiano.
Coneybeare was part of the senior team that captured the Kawartha title last year while Christiano last played two years ago when he was on the team in Grade 11.
Add to the mix a few athletic and keen Grade 12 students and Longo called this a “real nice mix of guys.”
“We told them we’re keeping everybody and it’s going to be up to the guys who are at practice who are showing us they want to play and who are ready to play. That’s how we’re going to decide 15 guys we go to every night” he said.
In the past Longo has employed a rotation of three sets of five players.
He said this strategy will be used in tournaments but it remains to be seen if this will happen in league games. Playing time will be determined by the players’ effort and work in practice.
“It’ll be game by game to see how it goes” he said.