Pat Bray enters his second season as boys basketball coach at Amherst Steele after going 3-17 and 0-12 in the Southwestern Conference in 2015-16.
He said better defense will play a large role in improving that mark this coming year.
“A point of emphasis for us will be to defend and get in people’s faces,” he said. “We didn’t do a good job of that at all last year. It’s all about getting those big stops at the right times of any given game.”
Seniors Carter Zajkowski and Johnny Matakovich will likely step up as the main offensive weapons for the Comets. Bray said he expects junior guard Gehrig Gabrie to make progress and step into a larger role this year as well.
“Zajkowski played very well for me over the summer and Matakovich will be another big contributor,” he said. “We’re a taller team this year with Carter at 6 foot 4, Alec Dimacchia being 6 foot 2, and Chad Jones being 6 foot 1 and a talented rebounder inside.”
The front court will be tasked with making up for the loss of three talented starters who departed as seniors: Casey McConihe, Tino Laboy, and Marshall Busey.
Bray said defensive schemes will continue to be heavy on man-to-man schemes, but the team will adapt to opponents on any given night.
“We want to close gaps, cut down on the penetration that we gave up last season, and not try to do anything too fancy,” he said. “Offensively, there will be some motion sets to try and get the ball into the hands of our shooters. We want to be an attacking team on offense this year, which we weren’t last year. Our shooters are going to get some good looks at the basket.”
While the past decade as a whole has been somewhat of a struggle on the court for the Amherst boys, Bray said he’s confident that the right steps are being taken to get the program where it needs to be.
“There are a lot of fundamental things that we have to get right,” he said. “We have to box out and keep guys in front of us. We don’t have any superstars right now so that means we all have to do the little things well together. There is talent and athleticism here and the guys are doing the work to help it come together.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.