Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Scalding 7-0 Pac Enters 2014 On Tear


It’s a new year, with 7-0 Mahopac’s primary resolution to enforce tighter defense.

If Indians coach Kevin Downes is known for anything, it’s being able to motivate your grandmother to drop down into a defensive stance and getting the kid who couldn't guard a flea to play suffocating man-to-man defense.

For years, Downes has implored young men to apply constant on-the-ball pressure, forcing any kid capable of dribbling his way through an And 1 Mixtape to give the ball up.

 That’s what made that oceanic-deep 2011 team--which could shoot foes out of the gym with marksmen Ryan Wagner and Anthony Annunziata or pursue the glass with T.J. Foley, Zack Ankier, Robbie Catalino and co.-- such a unique kick-starter.

That team set the standard, their quick-hit success a portent of what was to come.

Even as they nursed double-digit leads, the draping pressure intensifed.

 Every shot was contested. Every ball handler witnessed the Indians’ swarming hands apply pressure in unison.

 They trapped.

They got physical.

 If you were going to get buckets, they'd ensure every one of those points was earned.
 That team induced forced, off-balanced shots. They swiped at an unprotected Spalding, helping set a precedent.
Drawing blood from a stone is no longer the most daunting task in Section I. With early-season dreams of a Gold Ball already dancing around these players’ heads, it doesn't take much to get them amped up on game night.

Sustaining that defensive focus through four quarters, however, is a task perhaps more arduous.
The same coach who once held an impromptu boot camp, Downes possesses the motivational tactics to keep Pac’s eyes on the prize.

 Right now, there is a call for more defense. An uptick in pressure seems necessary.
“(Our defense) is a work in progress right now,” explained Downes.
 “I don’t think we are where we need to be. We’ve put it together in spurts and it has worked, but we really need to pick it up on that side of the floor. I think we have standards, we have high standards and high expectations of how it’s been. As you get down the road and in league play, they are going to have to pick it up.”
Initially, the notion of fourth straight County Center berths seemed too much too soon.
Discussing the prospects of a fourth consecutive Final Four, as so many did in a barrage of pre-season capsules, seemed like added pressure to a callow and unproven core.
 Ryan Simone’s loud start, however, has validated the lofty expectations.
 Developing a medium range game and augmenting his pack of post moves, Simone has become a major focal point.
Simone put his stamp on Mahopac’s 56-48 win over Ketcham. The senior, who has interest from Plattsburgh, Mercy, and Nazareth, scored 23 points and tore down 11 boards.
 Martinez, who transferred from blood rival Carmel but has played alongside Ryan and Mike Simone since they were 10, was the Robin to the 6-foot-4, 225-Simone’s Batman.
Martinez scored 17 points and snatched five boards.
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