Derek Gentile: Hoosac girls showed smarts, discipline in hoops title run
PITTSFIELD >> The 2015-16 high school basketball season in Berkshire County ended last Saturday, with the Hoosac Valley girls losing in the Division III state finals to Eastern Mass. champion Bishop Fenwick.
This was, interestingly enough, thought to be a rebuilding year for the Hurricanes, who lost Emily Rosse, one of the most skilled players in program history, to graduation.
But that, as they say, is why they play the games. The Hurricanes play a uniquely confounding game, with an emphasis on shooting three-pointer goals and employing a three-quarters court press that almost puts the 1964-65 UCLA Bruins to shame.
The Hurricanes are adept at this defense. It absolutely demands that teams play at their pace. Hoosac imposes a sort of roundball Darwinism on the court: teams must adapt or be suffocated.
The team also fires the ball around the perimeter until one of their players is open for a long-range shot. In a nutshell, the Hurricanes' basketball philosophy is to maximize their own possessions and minimize the other teams'.
This strategy worked well in the first half. Hoosac turned Fenwick over 16 times in the first half. That was 16 possessions the Fenwicks had that did not result in a score. Thus, despite being outshot and outrebounded, the Hurricane girls led at halftime, 24-23.
But we are talking about the state final, and an outstanding team can adjust to Hoosac's helter-skelter style with careful passes and proper player spacing. Fenwick was an outstanding team. They cut their turnover in half, to eight, got the ball to their bigger players and eventually won by nine points.
Still, it was another strong example of how well a team can play if it is disciplined and smart. The Hurricanes were not particularly tall, but they were definitely disciplined and smart. Next year the team should be well-positioned to make another strong run.
Boys coach earns cred
On the other side of he gym, an observation about the Hoosac boys, who won their second consecutive Western Mass. title the week before.
Coach Bill Robinson may well be one of the best high school coaches in any sport in the county. To some old-timers I may speak blasphemy, but Robinson can take his place in the pantheon of great Hurricane hoop coaches like Arthur Fox, Chet Zabek and Bill Boehner.
He is tough and he can be, um, abrasive to players. My comment is that if a player thinks Robinson is a bit much, I'm afraid life after high school will be rough ride indeed.
My old friend, the late, very great Adams High School star Bobby Eichorn, once told me his coach, Zabek, did indeed have favorites. I was surprised, as "Ike" was the captain of the mythical old school all-star team and I assumed he frowned on "coaching favorites."
"Yeah," he said. "If you blocked out, played defense, passed the ball and hit your free throws, you became a favorite of Chet's. See what I'm saying?"
Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.
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