SEASON PREVIEW: WILMINGTON
It's back to basics for the Wilmington Greyhounds.
Head coach Nick Cannone, in his second season at Wilmington, lost a lot of players from last year's team and will be leading a small squad into MCAC-AA play without a returning senior letterwinner.
Not only that, but the Hounds will get a late start on practice due to the success of Wilmington's football team.
Seven members of the Greyhounds' basketball team are currently busy with football duties. For a larger school, seven players wouldn't be a major cause for concern. However for Wilmington, it's half of the team.
"I don't want to, but I'm going to have to dig into the ninth grade program, which will hurt their chances of being competitive," said Cannone. "We have to try and win as many games as we can in the lower grades. We need some wins at any level to get the confidence and get the kids interested."
In the past, however, Cannone's team is no stranger to adversity. After the death of a valuable teammate, Jared Scofield, in the early part of the '99-00 season, the team went on an eight-game skid, but fought back and had a decent run to complete the year.
"Our last six games we went 3-and-3," Cannone said. "Now we could have packed it in, especially with all seniors on the team. The kids showed me something. It was encouraging. That tells me a little bit about the kids. We need that good work-ethic. We need to be a good blue-collar team, Everybody has to find their role and who knows what could happen."
Fortunatly for the Hounds, their first AA contest isn't until January 2 which will leave them a good amount time to prepare no matter how long the football season lasts.
Also, Cannone got to see many of his players in the off-season after a successful summer camp, a luxury the Greyhounds didn't have last year.
"My first year we had no summer program so we had one this year," Cannone said. "I got the kids in the gym so that will help. I've noticed a big difference this year in the kids that were around this summer and with me being here a year already. Things are going a lot smoother this year than last year and I think we have some decent kids that want to win."
Cannone will have to rely on a trio of underclassmen starting with 6-2 junior Quay Rosengarth. Rosengarth lettered last year and was the third highest scorer for the Hounds' in 1999-00. Other letterwinners include 5-10 junior Matt Krawchyk, who also lettered as a freshman, and 6-0 sophomore Nick Sheehan.
"I feel confident with the three younger kids -- my letterwinners," Cannone said. "They understand what we want to do. So, I think they will be our scorers and we would fill in these other kids to play their roles."
The Greyhounds have three seniors on their current roster, including Matt Coad, Doug Cameron, and Jason Lane. Each have minimal amouts of experience. Coad would have lettered last year if he hadn't been sidelined during the latter part of the season with an injured ankle and Lane, a football standout, is a total newcomer to the sport.
"(Lane is) an unknown," Cannone said. "The kids say he can play. I didn't see him this summer and now with this late start, I don't know when he'll be ready."
"Although (the seniors) won't be the hub of our offense, Cannone added, "they've got to play an intregal part in our success with their leadership: being coachable, and setting good examples for the younger kids. I expect those three to do that."
Also looking to contribute will be 6-0 junior Matt Maxwell at shooting guard, sophomores Andy Rayner Paul Brown, Ryan Castor, and Tyler Ault, as well as freshmen Tim Hughes and Steven Johnson.
To combat the team's early setbacks Cannone, along with assistants Keith Fustos and Patrick Grandy, are stressing fundamentals and tightening up their defense.
"Last year, I think the biggest mistake I made was giving them too much, too fast, too soon," Cannone said. "I tried to overcome our defense by throwing in an extra offensive set. I'm going back to what I believe in. We're going to teach the fundamentals. We're not going to get fancy on offense or defense. We're going to drill those fundamentals until we have them down. It's the only way. And defensively we're going to go after people. Last year we played some zone, more than I would have liked." -- By Herald writer Pete Chiodo
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