The willingness to shoot the ball while closely guarded takes confidence.
The ability to make shots under those circumstances is special and debilitating to opposing defenses.
Taconic guard Shaq Ardrey does not lack confidence on the basketball court, and when he starts to make shots from 3-point range, there are few better shooters in the county. Ardrey's ability to catch fire on offense, as he shouldered the scoring load for the North Division champion Braves, earned him All-Eagle MVP honors for the 2013-14 season.
"Shaq was a threat to score the ball every time he touched it," Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said. "The offense went through him and Mike [Taylor], part of our inside-outside combo. Shaq could drive and shoot the ball, and shoot from very deep range."
"When I get hot, I feel like no one can stop me," Ardrey said "It's one of the best parts of my game."
Ardrey performed his best on the biggest stage against rival Pittsfield. He eclipsed 1,000 career points, scoring 32, in a three-point loss to the Generals on the road in January. Then, Ardrey scored 26 points in a North Division-clinching win at home against Pittsfield in February. He also led the county in 3-pointers made.
"He cherished and really enjoyed the big moment," Heaphy said. "He saved his best for big games, didn't shy away from them."
"I like playing on big stages; it motivates me more," Ardrey said. "I like facing good competition and taking last-second shots.
"In the years past, it was always St. Joe [as a main rival], but this last year the [Pittsfield] rivalry was made for me. It was always a big-time game. I had to perform and be a leader."
Heaphy said Ardrey's ability to score while being an opposing defense's main focal point was impressive. Ardrey often faced the box-and-1 defense, designed to keep the ball out of his hands and take away his room to work. Even with teams set up to stop him, he'd find the open man with a pass, slither into the lane for a layup or use a step-back to create space for a jumper.
"Shaq's a guy you counted on to get 20 points, but you knew he could get 25-35 points on any given night," Heaphy said. "He drew a lot of attention, and finished with over 100 assists for the year.
"Smart basketball player, understands the game, very good at reading situations and matured as a player and a person."
In addition to his scoring ability, Heaphy said Ardrey was an above-average rebounder for a guard, and a smart defender as well.
"Defensively, he was very good at shooting gaps and getting into passing lanes," Heaphy said. "He picked up a lot of steals. All-around basketball player, extremely difficult to defend against."
Ardrey said one of the highlights of his career was scoring his 1,000th career point in Pittsfield at the Moynihan Field House. Being able to share that moment with his mother, Crystal, was very special to him.
"My mom is my life. She's been there from day one," he said. "She's my mom and my dad. When I get out of here, I'm going to give her whatever she wants. ... She's the only person that really matters."
To reach Akeem Glaspie:
or (413) 496-6252.
On Twitter: @THEAkeemGlaspie.