By SEAN LYNCH
The Washingtonville Wizard’s varsity boys’ basketball team is back on the court. The first thing the team did during Tuesday’s practice was apply their press defense. “When we went up against Class AA’s Shenendehowa during a scrimmage in the summer, we knew they were going to press us as soon as they got off the bus,” said Wizard’s Coach Todd Rose. “It was great competition for us, and I thought we absorbed a large sum of information as a result.”
Washingtonville finished last year with a 10-11 record, including a Section IX Quarterfinal loss against Kingston. With seven players from last year’s team returning for the Wizards, along with talented players coming up from JV, there is good reason for excitement this year. “I’m excited about our two juniors, Brendan O’ Leary and Ryan Johnson, who were on the varsity team last year as sophomores,” Rose exclaimed. They appear to be sharp, and look ready to take a bigger role on the team this year.
|SEAN LYNCH FOR WIZARD WEEKLY|
Billy Aussenheimer and P.J. Morais have been friends since their travel basketball days in elementary school. Now being the two captains of the Wizard’s basketball team, their ability to communicate together will impact what happens on the court. “Being captains together is great because we’re comfortable playing with each other, and it will create many opportunities for our basketball team,” Morais passionately said. “I have to prove that I can be a good leader,” he added. “The way I’m going to do that is getting everyone in the same winning mindset so we can work together and beat whoever is put in front of us.”
The three returning forwards from last years’ team, Stephen Shute, Jack Zimmer and Sean Dunnigan, are crucial to the teams’ success this year. According to Coach Rose, “They are our paint protectors and their ability to play in the post, control the glass, and win the ‘rebounding war’, as I like to call it, will be a big factor in games this year.”
“One of the biggest surprises on the court this year will be Mickey Urso,” Rose boldly stated. “I have been impressed by his point guard skill-set, and his defensive abilities, but what I have been most impressed by is his work in the classroom.” He has made tremendous strides academically and, as a result, will be playing a big role for us this year.”
The Wizard’s team philosophy is play hard, play smart, play together. “Our season’s expectation is like a pyramid; there is no one expectation for our team,” Rose assured. "To compete in the Class AA Division II Championship, you have to qualify for the Section IX Tournament. To qualify for the tournament you have to win ten games, and to win ten games you have to start with one game, and that one game will be the result of how you practiced the previous day.”
The team starts each day with a famous quote. The Wizard’s quote of the day was from Michael Jordan. “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships”. And if the Wizards execute a combination of the three characteristics above- the sky is the limit for this year’s team.