Hoosac Valley girls hoops getting it done offensively, defensively
CHESHIRE -- At the rate the Hoosac Valley girls basketball team is going, it might want to start accepting suggestions for a nickname. The Big Red Machine is already taken, but that could be the one that fits best.
The Hurricanes sit at 15-1 overall, and 4-0 in the South Division, after Friday's win over Mount Everett. They've beaten everyone in the county, and perhaps the second-best Division III team in Western Massachusetts, Granby, in non-league action by 26. Their lone loss came to Austintown Fitch of Youngstown, Ohio, who was ranked No. 7 in Ohio at the time.
The record is impressive by itself, but how Hoosac is doing it is even more so.
Not including the Mount Everett game, the Hurricanes are averaging 67.3 points per game and giving up just 33.7. That's more than double. Their shooting percentages are through the roof, too. Six of 10 players make more than 30 percent of their attempted field goals, with Emily Rosse's 55 percent leading the way.
"In  years I have not seen averages like this ppg, opponents ppg, turnovers per game, even some of the shooting percentages are outstanding," coach Ron Wojcik wrote in a recent email.
Posting the numbers the Hurricanes have might be able to be accomplished if a team has just implemented a new system and is catching teams by surprise. That's what Hoosac did last year with its trap-anywhere,-any-time mentality, and still those numbers don't compare.
So how is it that teams have seen what it is Hoosac runs time and again multiple times and it still works? Communication.
The biggest difference the Hurricanes have seen in how opponents want to attack their full-court trap is by advancing the ball down the middle. It's not the only solution teams are trying, but it's been the most popular.
"If they get the ball to the middle, then bad things happen," junior Emily Rosse said. "Coach always says either they score or we mess up. So we have to not let the ball get to the middle."
In order to counter that, Wojcik said he opts to solicit input from the athletes because they're the ones on the floor that have to implement the ever-evolving pressure defense.
"They buy in and say ‘Coach, we think it'd be easier if she rotates here and I go there,' " he said before boarding the buss for Sheffield on Friday. "Then [it's] ‘OK, let's do it.' Then we just kind of go from there."
The method seems to be working each night Hoosac hits the floor. In 15 games, the Hurricanes have amassed 290 steals and forced their opponents into 434 turnovers (28.9 per game). They say it's become harder to use the defense effectively because teams are seeing it more, but their comfort within it has helped keep it going.
"It's definitely harder when they do break it a couple times," junior McKenzie Robinson said. "It doesn't stop us. Our coach keeps telling us to adjust to that. He will fix it if we have any questions about it."
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