Thursday, August 8, 2013

Coaches Corner With: Chris Caputi, Yorktown


Former Kennedy Catholic guard Chris Caputi inherited a callow, youth-laden team at Yorktown High.

At the helm of a mega-rebuilding project, Caputi was anxious to not only build up a young team with minimal expectations, but to make basketball a 24-7-365 culture at the lacrosse hotbed of Yorktown.

Caputi arrived at Yorktown in his fourth year of coaching, his first as a head coach. He looked like he was in his fourth year of high school, his first appearance at the prom.  

Don’t let those youthful looks fool you.

Experience and a sheer feel for the game helped Caputi ascend the food chain rather quickly.

Caputi has spent the summer imploring a Yorktown team to apply constant swarming pressure and execute a running game.

Several underclassmen were the key pieces for the Huskers last season, proving their worth against the big dogs.

Caputi believes that through the maturation process, coupled with the experience now under their belt, the seeds for a successful program have been planted.

 The youth movement is very much over, as Yorktown features a pair of athletic seniors and a 6-foot-5 scoring forward with an increased offensive role this season.

Caputi played for Tom Nelligan, winning two Section I championships his junior and senior season. Playing alongside shooter Dan O’Connell and the late and legendary Tyrell Thompson, it was a memorable period of prosperity for Kennedy in Section I.

His current group has bought in.  Now, the onus is on this coach and core to re-write the script following a 4-14 season. We caught up with Caputi for Coaches Corner this week. Caputi gave us a veritable blueprint for the Huskers.

On the Team’s Success This Summer

“I think the boys are beginning to realize the importance of becoming a year-round program. Not only are they realizing it, they are buying in as well. After our season ended in February, we gave them some down time through March. Once April hit, we had open workouts twice a week through the end of May. We have been playing in the summer league games at the House of Sports since the week of July 4th with three teams—two at the varsity level and one at the JV. We have seen a lot of positives and progress in our games this summer. It is great to see a young core buy into what they have and they are getting better. Perhaps our most important endeavor was holding two open workout weeks in July where the boys were up and at it early. We went  Monday-Friday, 7-8:30 a.m., and went with a great work ethic. The boys decided as a team to deem the open workouts as “Toughness Weeks” and as a program that is something we are all proud of.

On The Key Returnees

“Rising senior Ricky Corrado, our only All-League player, returns as a double-digit scorer. We will look to him again this senior. Rising junior Mason Dyslin started almost every game last season and put together a great string of games for us. His potential is unlimited. Mason has the potential to be a matchup problem for a lot of teams’ being a 6-5 guard. He has the ability to bring bigger players away from the basket and drive by them to the rim or taken open jump shots.

 He’s not afraid to get into the post if there’s a switch to a smaller defender. Rising sophomore Luis Cartagena started about half the games last year as a freshman and showed signs of stepping up late in games. We will look for more of that this season.

Incoming sophomore Nick DeGennaro is a true point guard. We brought him up toward the end of the season to see how he would handle it and get him some early varsity experience. He keeps us organized. It will be a learning season for him and as he grows mentally and physically he will be solid moving forward.  Very importantly, all our guys look up to a true leader in Luke Palmadesso— who shows unreal toughness day in and day out. “

On The Principles Of The Program

“We said from the beginning it is all about the details…Leadership, toughness, and work ethic. Once we buy into those things, everything else will fall into place. I’m pretty confident about that. The culture here at Yorktown is growing and I am excited about our future. As a coach, I am trying to learn and grow from my experiences and make sure we do the best we can as a group.”
Caputi (right) guarding NBA guard former Knick Nate Robinson
On The Summer Scene

“We have competed against some very good Section 1 competition this summer and we have fared very well. I think we took positive steps as we head into the fall. As a program, we don’t like to put a number on things, that puts added pressure on a young group. We need to make sure we complete our “daily goals” throughout the year. If we do, we do believe towards the end of our 18-game schedule we will be in a good place.

On His Kennedy Days And Tyrell Thompson’s Legacy

“We were three time sectional champions, three times regional champions, back-to-back NY State Championship game appearances. We lost in the state finals both my junior and senior year. I don’t believe Kennedy has gotten to our class (2006) for inductions, but I’m pretty confident Tyrell Thompson will make it when it comes around. He was an all-state player in both his junior and senior seasons. Ty was one of the best players I have ever been around and an even better friend. I looked up to him a lot. Ty is my hero and losing him has been difficult.