PITTSFIELD -- As a freshman, Treyvon Ringgold did a lot of what high school basketball coaches call "swinging." He'd play three quarters of a junior varsity game and be on the bench for the following varsity game to watch his future unfold.
When Taconic boys coach Bill Heaphy called Ringgold's name to make his true varsity debut, the sophomore forward said the game went faster than he thought.
"I kind of had a few turnovers," he said. "People were passing me the ball, and I didn't realize the tempo."
Things have truly slowed down for the 6-foot-2 1/2-inch forward. Ringgold is the first forward off the bench for Heaphy's Braves, and if Taconic is going to have any kind of a long postseason run, Ringgold is going to have to be a key cog in that run.
"Now he has confidence," Heaphy said. "He's got minutes under his belt. He understands his role.
"From December to now, he's probably playing his best and most confident basketball."
Ringgold backs up Mike Taylor and Drew Scace, two senior frontcourt players. If one of them needs a rest or picks up a couple of early fouls, Heaphy doesn't hesitate to call on his sophomore.
Spending a year on the JV, Ringgold got a lot of playing time. Quite often, however, when freshman become sophomores and make the varsity, playing time could be at a premium. That isn't the case on Valentine Road.
"I didn't know I was going to get any special kind of playing time," Ringgold said. "I didn't know I was going to get this much playing time."
In fact, Ringgold said Heaphy gave him the word before the season started that he would be a factor in the Taconic rotation.
"He gave me a heads up. It was at the end of practice," Ringgold said. "He said we're going to start needing you for games later on."
Last year's Taconic team depended a lot on the outside shooting and scoring of Shaq Ardrey and Trayvon Sims. This season, the Braves still have Ardrey, but the inside scoring of Taylor and the play of Scace and Ringgold have opened things up for the Taconic guards.
Facing Taylor and Scace every day in practice has been a big help to the sophomore.
"He probably needed [to go] halfway through January" to get the half of the game, Heaphy said. "It took him a while.
"He's battling Mike and Drew. He gives Mike fits [in practice] because of his jumping ability."
Even at 6-2 1/2. Heaphy said Ringgold is a little undersized for a 4 or 5. The sophomore said he wears a size 17 sneaker, and he admits that he expects a growth spurt again.
Heaphy said that Ringgold is still learning the game, a process that is improving. The sophomore doesn't have to be told multiple times what to do on the court. But Heaphy said that it's still taking a little bit of time for his body to catch up with his level of basketball understanding.
"He's still raw," the coach said. "He listens. That's the main thing up to this point. He's smart like that. What he has to learn to do is move his skill level along with [his basketball intelligence]."
New England basketball fans know that the sixth man on a basketball team can be important. Kevin McHale was the Celtics' sixth man before he became a Hall of Famer. At the college level, UMass has been far more successful this year when sixth man Maxie Esho has been healthy.
At Taconic, Heaphy said Ringgold brings energy from his spot in the rotation.
"Being the sixth man is good enough," Ringgold said. "For me, it doesn't matter. I always bring my energy. It's a style I play."