CHESHIRE -- A solid inside presence can affect a basketball game in multiple ways.
If a big man requires a double-team to be stopped, the extra attention creates space for his teammates to move around the perimeter.
In the case of Hoosac Valley sophomore Jameson Coughlan, he went from playing sparingly on varsity last season, to being one of the key cogs of the Hoosac Valley offense.
Hoosac coach Bill Robinson calls Coughlan a "wide-body." But don’t let the moniker fool you. Coughlan brings a hard-nosed mentality to the game, and has athleticism as well.
Despite not receiving significant varsity playing time last year, Robinson said Coughlan’s work in practice showed he’d be a varsity contributor one day.
"That was the good thing about practicing with us last year," he said. "He got a good taste of what we do and how we do things. To his credit, he took off and worked on his game this summer."
Coughlan’s offseason work paid off, as Robinson said the forward came into the season with improved footwork and post moves.
As the season progresses, Robinson said Coughlan’s making strides as a passer as well.
The extra attention, coupled with the ability to pass out of double teams makes Coughlan that much more dangerous. Solid passing also benefits shooters Matt Braman and Matt Koperniak, allowing them to get clean looks the basket.
"A lot of teams can’t play him one-on-one, so they collapse a kid or two," Robinson said. "We talk about where teams are coming from [defensively], and we try to prepare him, Peter [Barrow], Trevor [Alibozek] and Javon [Reynolds] to know your options before you catch the ball."
The ability of the Hoosac bigs to read defenses is a great weapon to have, especially when facing zone defenses. If too much attention is paid to one area, the right pass to an open cutter or shooter could be deadly.
"If I can get in the middle, they’re going to collapse," Coughlan said. "Coach always emphasizes, get in the middle and we’ll get good shots."
On Monday against Lenox, penetration from Sean Ryan-Kut led to open shots for Hoosac’s shooters in the second half. Even when the perimeter shots weren’t falling, Coughlan managed 12 of his team-high 22 in the first half.
As the regular season nears its end, teams will need to figure out just how much attention to devote to Coughlan in the low-post.
In the North Division especially, with games against Pittsfield and Taconic looming, will Taconic’s Mike Taylor or Pittsfield’s Anthony Jones have the ability to cover Coughlan one-on-one, forcing the Hurricanes to beat them from somewhere else?
Those questions remain to be answered. For now, the Hurricanes are enjoying the results of the work Coughlan put in, which is helping to keep the team within striking distance of a division crown.
"We are not totally surprised by this," Robinson said. "We’re quite pleasantly happy with the way it turned out. He went to work in the summer, played a lot in the summer and this is what you get when you work hard at your game."
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