Friday, December 5, 2014

Uno En Uno With: Brandon Davis, Mahopac Hoops

Anytime you lose roughly 70 percent of the offensive output from the previous season, the skeptics are quick to surface.

That's what has occurred at Mahopac, where the Indians boys basketball team looks to rebuild with a young core following its record fourth straight County Center berth. Mahopac's 2014 graduation claimed hot-shooting guard R.J. Martinez and interior banger Ryan Simone, an All-Section tandem which catalyzed the Indians throughout the 2013-14 campaign.

The Indians also lost point guard Glenn Janik, who you may recall netting the game-winning 3-pointer against blood rival Carmel during the regular season. It was Janik's 3-point shooting and a timely step back jumper that helped launch Mahopac back into the County Center following a wild Section 1/Class A quarterfinal win over Fox Lane.

The general consensus was that a sudden dearth of talent swayed coaches away from Mahopac this off-season. The Indians had a long and exasperating process of finding a new head coach to replace Kevin Downes, who revitalized the basketball culture at a school initially known more for football, baseball, and lacrosse.

In the end, they landed a veteran in former Pace University head coach Jim Harter.

And those whispers about a mass exodus of ballers at Mahopac have only served as off-season motivation. Eager to prove they belong and still be a contender in the league's top-stratum, the Indians return a core of veterans that saw meaningful minutes last year.

A number of incoming juniors and seniors are thrust into prominent roles. Aiden Hynes, a lockdown defender who emerged as a key rebounder last season, will be critical.

Dan Foley, a hard-slashing left-handed guard who displayed flashes of a feathery jumper last season, will also assume some ownership of this team. Foley, a gifted athlete who could play multiple positions, should fill the gap left by Simone in the paint.

The team is likely to go through Chris Esernio, a 6-foot-5 swingman with a dependable deep jumper and a newfound knock for creating his shot off the bounce. More adept at getting to the rim and putting the ball on the deck, Esernio must transition from the role of cast member to go-to-guy. The onus is on Esernio to hunt for his shot and create via an increased dose of dribble drive penetration.

 Martinez was an inside-outside threat, a shooter who developed a nifty floater and a dependable mid-range game. Janik was a cerebral, ball control point guard who kept the offense up-tempo and fed Simone in the half-court attack. Helping pad the loss will be pair of guards in junior Christian Donahoe and returning senior Charles Heady.

Donahoe is a quick ball handler, displaying a pair of hops this pre-season. Heady is arguably the team's best athlete, an innate workhorse possessing an engine that never seems to tail off. While both will contribute by clamping down and rendering it an ugly game for foes, the Indians have a physical inside presence in senior captain in 6-foot-3 senior Nick Simone.

With the secondary players  maturing throughout the Indians' 12-month focus, a horde of new faces must assimilate immediately. The uptick in work started in June, as the team competed in the House of Sports summer league, developing a rapport with one another despite the coaching uncertainly existent.

Among the veteran returners is Brandon Davis, a 6-foot-4 forward whose coach-abilty and hustle will be put to immediate use. Davis, like Simone before him, is a high-efficiency scorer. Putbacks, point-blank buckets, and a short-range jumper will increase his scoring role. He'll also continue the theme of hazardous defensive pressure across the court.

Blocking, manipulating, and altering the trajectory of shots inside the paint, Davis has the experience and interior skill-set to help keep the Indians relevant.

Losing so much luster and filling the high-caliber Martinez-Simone punch won't be done by the weekend, but the Indians have the personnel and traditional athlete-laden squad to fill the losses by committee.

His work ethic and high-intensity should be emblematic of the new-look Indians, which seem hell-bent on slaying the meager expectations the prognosticators have heaped on them. Workmanlike and old-school are two terms best describing Davis' game.

Everything is done with a militaristic brand of meticulousness and unwavering focus.

Davis typically replies with a "yes sir," as he'll perform any task asked of him.

Unassuming and committed to winning and the team concept, Davis represents a brand of athlete both rare and sought after in today's day-where transferring is as popular as it's ever been and loyalties are long lost.

'Pac opens the 2014-15 campaign against Peekskill this weekend, kicking off a new era that does not include Downes or longtime Peekskill boss Lou Panzanaro on the sidelines.

We caught up with Davis, our feature guest in this week's UNO EN UNO

Davis On Team Identity

We are a very strong and close team. We all trust and respect each other. Offensively, we move the ball exceptionally well. Scoring this year will be divided amongst the team. Defensively, we are going to put on the pressure. We want our opponents to shoot tough shots and really limit scoring opportunities.

On Adapting and Personnel 

Most of the returning veterans will be taking on significant roles this season, as well as a few newcomers. The offense will feature myself, Chris Esernio, Charles Heady, Aiden Hynes, and Christian Donahoe, with support from other veterans and newcomers. 

On The Outlook

Our expectations and goals for our team this season are set very high. In previous years, we've had a lot of success with the program and we hope to continue our winning ways. Ryan Simone and RJ Martinez were key players and will be missed, but our team is ready to take on the challenge and are excited for the season to start. 

With the arrival of Coach Harter, this off-season has been mainly learning his style of play along with individual skills. 

Coach Harter has a tremendous amount of experience and knows the game very well. As a team,we've learned his system and continue to grow stronger with each practice. 

On The Schedule

Every game we play is just as important as the next. As always, Carmel will be a huge game for us. We're in a different league this year, with a lot of talented teams. We're going to work hard and sustain our goal, which is to win the league.