Monday, February 15, 2016

Hooping With: Brendan Flynn, Hastings

Sure, it's been some time since the Cochrane Gymnasium rocked like it's capable of.

Sure, the basketball culture at Hastings has tailed off in recent years.

 Sure, a pair of dismal seasons and a sudden culture change at a school that once carried a torch proudly for basketball may have punctured the image.

This season, however, Bob Delle Bovi and a veteran core has helped alter the perception of an ailing program and pump promise and life back into a basketball community.

From the CYO level on up, Hastings has forever been a basketball-crazed little town.

 In the day, so to speak, a high-intensity and high-stakes and high-ferocity pickup game was promised.

 Gym class basketball was akin to bloodsport.

 A jump shot or decent handle meant respect throughout the school and village.

The Cochrane was once of Section 1's toughest, jam-packed places to play.

 It was a gym rife with teen spirit and fired up fans, the caliber of hostile environment where an early airball can make it a long and grueling evening for any visiting foe.

The fanfare may have dipped a few notches, but a 14-6 record and new commitment to the town's favored game is indicative that promise is on its way.

Helping pioneer the Jackets has been a sturdy, dependable scorer and facilitator in third-year junior guard Brendan Flynn.

ZS: What's been instrumental in this bounce back season and what do you attribute it to?

BF: I think having an older group with considerable varsity experience is something we really haven't had these past two seasons.

 So, to have an older experienced group paired with the fact that everyone is motivated from last year has been key. 

In addition, Coach Delle Bovi had a year to evaluate us.

 So, he tweaked the system a little to our strengths which has been huge., Coach has been great.

ZS: Speaking of the coaching, You guys have a unique good cop/bad cop dynamic with assistant coach Rohle and Delle Bovi.

 Delle Bovi is the proven and demanding high strung veteran and Rohle is the young calming influence earning a name for himself. How does this work in the team's favor?

BF: What a duo. There isn't a coach in the Section who knows more X's and O's than Delle Bovi. 

He's had success at every high school he's been at and he knows how to win.

 So, he sets winning expectations, and is unapologetic about getting the team to meet them.

 At times you want to rip his head off, but there's no coach I'd rather play for.

  Rohle on the other hand is certainly calmer, he's like a sponge at practice taking in everything Delle Bovi says and just trying to learn as much as he can. 

Now, Coach Rohle sits on the bench at most of our games and he sees things. He offers advice, he puts in some sets for us, he’s almost like an offensive coordinator.

 Rohle demands respect as well, as he has expectations and demands from us varsity guys as well. An outstanding JV coach now, Rohle is going to make a great varsity coach one day not too long from now. 

By the way coach Rohle, George Tino, and Delle Bovi work together, share power, and interact with us players is a coaching staff second to none in this section, making it a true gift to play for the Hastings Basketball Program.

ZS: What has the support been like this season, now that the program is winning again?

BF: The support has been great, although not wuite where it has been historically. It's funny. I was getting my hair cut and some older fella recognized me and asked about our recent game, which was cool.

 In school, it's been great I get high fives and 'hey what's up Brendan' from the  little kids I don't know. I know it doesn't sound like much but growing up I know I looked up to the varsity football and basketball athletes and wanted to be just like them.

 So for something to go full circle like that is really encouraging and supportive. So although the Cochrane isn't standing room only like it was decades ago, the support level of the community is certainly headed in the right direction.

 ZS: What's the focus heading into the playoffs?

BF: I think all season we've been concerned about seeding, trying to get to get two home games.

 But now that we're here we're just taking it day by day, game by game. The No.16 seed, Dobbs Ferry took us to overtime, so we can't take anybody lightly. 

Of course the County Center discussion has come up and it would be a dream come true to play there, so a goal we've set is to make it there and see what we can do. 

That being said, it's far from reality right now. So, we're just focusing on the little things in preparation for a Pal Prep on Wednesday.

ZS: Last team to make it to County Center (2011)  had Ali Marpet (Tampa Bay Bucs) and Tom Capuano (Manhattan College). Have you followed those two and took inspiration out of what they've made with their athletic careers, knowing they both had their fair share of doubters?
BF: As a little kid I had the treat to look up to guys like Ali Marpet, Luca Cobucci, Mark Siden, Ryan Blicker, Alby Skrelja, and all those boys knowing one day I'd be in there position trying to continue the legacy of Hastings basketball.

So the fact I've looked up to those winners has really inspired me from a young age. Tom Cap on the other hand is really something else. 

Having someone so good at all sports just 2 grades above me really gave me something to strive for. 

Having worked out with a little bit he's showed me some things I try to implement in my game and work ethic.

 It's really been a treat looking up to all these guys trying to emulate their success while also knowing there are little kids looking up to me I have to inspire as well.

ZS: How has experience helped position this team for success?

BF: Having played heavy minutes with Daymon (Theodule) and Grant (Hevia) last year we kind of grew with each other, learning how to play together and to trust each other. It goes beyond just the backcourt as Will Weitzman has as good a back to the basket game as anyone in the section, at 6-4 you just don't see that very much.

 I think Coach has played a huge role in our success too, highlighting our strengths and camouflaging our weaknesses. Finally our chemistry is as good as its been in my 3 years. We get food as a team like once a week. There's no jealousy in the fact there's a freshman (Emmet Fuchs) in the team as there's been in the past. Everyone knows there role and everyone embraces it which had been huge.