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Brooks School has a young team with good potential

by - Published October 16, 2013 in Columns

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Brooks School is known much more for academics than athletics. Academically, it’s in a class with few peers among the NEPSAC schools, and it has a campus that’s right up there with the best of them in the very nice suburbs well north of Boston. The basketball program has had some notable players in recent years, including former Connecticut and Missouri forward Alex Oriakhi, and while they don’t have an individual talent on quite that level in 2013-14, they will be a team to keep an eye on.

Brooks will field a young team this season, but figures to be competitive if their younger and more talented players grow up. They have made the NEPSAC Class B semifinals three years in a row and hope to take at least a step further this time around.

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Even with a key departure, Tabor Academy feels they can contend in Class A

by - Published October 14, 2013 in Columns

MARION, Mass. – Tabor Academy figures to be a contender in NEPSAC Class A this year.  That might be quite a statement when you consider they lost their best player from last year as Jarred Reuter transferred to Brewster Academy, but the Seawolves have enough talent and a suitable replacement for how they will play to be in the mix when March rolls around.

The Seawolves have a couple of players recovering from off-season injuries, so Sunday’s open gym didn’t showcase the full team.  Everyone should be ready to go come November, with plenty of perimeter players to go with their new post presence.  Because of that, head coach Chris Millette wants to run often this year.

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Milton Academy has plenty of guards to build around Brennan

by - Published October 8, 2013 in Columns

MILTON, Mass. – In recent years, Milton Academy has emerged in the world of NEPSAC basketball, becoming a consistent tournament contender under Lamar Reddicks. Last season, Reddicks’ fifth at the school, they reached the Class A championship but were out-classed against an excellent Phillips Exeter team. There’s no shame in that, although it was a stinging defeat and one that holdovers of this year’s team will surely have in mind to help drive them for a better result this time around.

Milton lost a few key players from last season, including Ike Ngwudo, who is now a freshman at Dartmouth. But they return some veterans and a couple of players who may break out as part of the support cast to their go-to guy. How they play will determine if this team can make another run toward a championship.

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Charlestown looks ready to rebound from last season

by - Published October 7, 2013 in Columns

CHARLESTOWN, Mass. – Step outside of Charlestown High School and you find you’re in a place with some noteworthy sites.  In one direction is the Bunker Hill Monument, in another you can see the Tobin Bridge that connects Chelsea and Boston.  In another direction is the Schrafft’s building, which can easily be seen from the nearby highway, and a major Hood plant is just around the corner.

The school itself has some history on the hardwood over the past couple of decades, as it has been a powerhouse in the city.  Last year was not one of those years, but Edson Cardoso’s team is planning to make that an aberration.  The Townies have a good deal of talent and the veterans know why last season’s team, inexperienced though it was, disappointed with a 6-14 mark.  They are primed to turn that around with a much more experienced group.

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Vermont Academy fully reflects their new coach

by - Published September 30, 2013 in Columns

SAXTONS RIVER, Vt. – Teams usually reflect their coach for obvious reasons.  A coach shapes a team with things like style of play and overall character, as well as personality, and at levels before the professional ranks the coach often shapes the team much more than a pro coach does.  In the case of Vermont Academy, the idea of a team reflecting its coach takes on even more meaning because of who their coach is: the youngest in Class AA.

Jesse Bopp left the school to join the staff at VCU, and in his place is former assistant Cody Hatt.  Barely half a decade out of college, Hatt has been fortunate to land in such a spot at this juncture, and he has a similarly young group with many underclassmen, including his best players.

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Sullivan excited about the team he has put together at Worcester Academy

by - Published September 30, 2013 in Columns

WORCESTER, Mass. – You get the sense while talking to Worcester Academy head coach Jamie Sullivan that he will love coaching his team even if they lose every game this season. That’s a highly unlikely scenario for a lot of reasons, and he’s happy to brag about why he’ll enjoy this team.

Talent is only a small part of the equation. The Hilltoppers have it, but are not going to win many games on that alone. By and large, this is a team full of players who have something – a scholarship or a level of college – to play for. Many have either under-achieved, under-recruited and/or are late bloomers who will get chances to show how good they can be. It’s also a team with good students all around and a low-maintenance group, and all of that makes Sullivan’s job easier.

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Quick Hitters – September 29, 2013

by - Published September 29, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

It’s a great time of the year. Prep school visits are winding down and college teams have started practice, signs that the season isn’t far away. Also, college schedules are finally coming out, with a few more game times to be determined due to television.

Before getting back to some of the final prep school visits, here are some quick hitters from around college basketball.

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Led by their perimeter trio, Cushing Academy could repeat in NEPSAC Class AA

by - Published September 27, 2013 in Columns

ASHBURNHAM, Mass. – The defending NEPSAC Class AA champions could very well stand in the winner’s circle again come next March.  Cushing Academy won it all last March on a buzzer-beater, completing a comeback from being down by double digits with a few minutes left.  This time around, if they win it all again, they might not need that kind of drama, although they certainly won’t be prohibitive favorites.

Cushing will probably have the best backcourt in Class AA, and it starts with recent Syracuse commit Kaleb Joseph (6’3″ Sr. PG, Nashua (NH)).  Simply put, the long guard is just what a team like this needs: he’s still hungry, still working and very committed to leading this team.  There’s no entitlement in him; in fact, before the workout, he wasn’t delegating the task of setting up the court to the freshmen, as he was leading the charge himself.  This is a young man who wants another championship and wants to get better, and it was all in evidence as he showed a better jumper and his team kept on winning during game action.

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Notre Dame Prep looks like Hurd’s kind of team

by - Published September 27, 2013 in Columns

FITCHBURG, Mass. – Ryan Hurd feels pretty good about his team right now at Notre Dame Prep, and that’s with his best player and a few late arrivals having worked out exactly zero minutes with their teammates to this point.  Watching eight of their players go through their second workout of the day on Thursday provides some insight as to why, and one can imagine that he’ll feel better once he works with them even more.

Hurd likes having a team loaded with guards so he can more easily push the pace, and that’s what he has.  There’s only one player taller than 6’5″ who took the floor on Thursday, and it’s easy to imagine this team playing faster than every opponent.

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Proctor Academy’s young players need to grow for the future

by - Published September 26, 2013 in Columns

ANDOVER, N.H. – This season isn’t where Proctor Academy will have its big goal as far as its current personnel are concerned.  While there are a number of seniors and post-graduates on the roster, the program is trying to put together a young core that will probably have some noticeable growing pains this season but be expected to contend in another year or two.  More than the wins and losses, the growth of the young talent will be a key story for Gregor Makechnie’s team in 2013-14.  On Wednesday night, they got together for their first open gym of the fall.

The one around whom the future will be primarily built is Julian Roche (6’10” So. PF-C, St. John (New Brunswick)).  The big man possess a good frame and is young all the way around, as he’s 15 years old and his body has some baby fat to get rid of.  While raw on the post offensively, he showed a nice touch shooting the ball well away from the basket, so that will give them some options for what to run on offense while he tries to develop his body and more of a post game.  He didn’t shy away from contact or trying to get rebounds as well.

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