Thursday, October 27, 2011
If there was a phrase that needed to be attached to this season‘s Central Maine Community College Men’s Basketball team, it would consist of two words: “Bounce back”
“We had a horrible year last year,” said the team’s defensive stalwart Nick Hinkley, a 2010 graduate of Wiscasset High School. “We’ve got a lot of new kids, and like 6 or 7 returning (players) this year. We need to win a lot of games and make it back to nationals.”
The Yankee conference is adding teams this season, so the Mustangs challenge of getting to where they want to be will be tougher. Still, with the recent chemistry-related collapse of the Boston Red Sox fresh in our minds, head coach Dave Gonyea insists this team is built the right way.
“A lot of what we’ve tried to do here over the years is bring in the right chemistry and the right kids,” said Gonyea. “Last year, the first half, we had a nice bunch of kids, but we had no point guard play at all. We just didn’t have the talent to compete. At the break, we brought in four kids, and that was a big mistake. They were every athletic, but they did not fit who we are, in terms of getting along. I’ve learned over the years that hard work, organization, and fundamentals beat talent any time. We could do all sorts of things last year, except win. We’ve got kids who get along pretty well together, and I’ve learned that is so important. “
“The biggest change I’ve made is making sure we’re getting the right kids for our system.”
The college won a Yankee Championship in 2009-10, so the 2010-11 season was a major step back for the program. It was the first time in Gonyea’s era that the school didn’t make the conference tournament. This year’s team will be led by the veteran Hinkley, sophomore guard Curtis Miller from Valley, Boston native Patrick Lorfills, and Ariel Lezana.
“There wasn’t a lot of chemistry last year,” said Hinkley.
Miller echoed the sentiments of Gonyea and Hinkley.
“It was my first losing year of basketball at any level in my life,” said Miller, who was part of a long title run at Valley.
“I came here my first year, took like one shot a game and played defense the rest of the time,” said Hinkley. “It’s about finding your role.”
There are lofty standards at the school, and it’s easy to see that the players and coaching staff really want to meet those standards this season. It also means meeting Gonyea’s standards, which can be a lot tougher than other schools in the area.
“I talk to kids about their hair, what they wear, things I know a lot of others won’t do,” said Gonyea. “I want these kids to be prepared for the real world, not the world they want.”
“He pretty much takes care of everything around here,” said Miller of Gonyea. ‘I worked with him here over the summer, and was pretty surprised at the amount of work he does here. It’s actually a lot more (work) than people think he does.”
It’s a part of that family atmosphere that Gonyea likes to provide for his school and his athletes. One of his students from out of state celebrated a birthday this week, so the team brought him out to celebrate.
“He stood up and said ‘I want to thank my second family’,” said Gonyea. “That’s what we’re looking to do here.”
On the court, the game plan is going to be simple: defense, ball movement and fundamentals.
“Curtis will be our shooter,” said Gonyea. “I expect him to shoot it, probably 12 to 15 times a game. Hink will generally match-up defensively with the other team’s best offensive player. We’ve got a couple of new exciting players. Alonzo James is a kid from Bath, very high basketball IQ. We have our kid from England, Sam Olayemi, a big kid who handles the ball well. He’ll probably be one of our point guards. We have another kid from Miami, Mike Green, who just came in who is very, very quick and is very, very coachable. Ariel is a 6 foot 2 inch chunk of cement. Brandon Giguere shoots the ball very well, another high basketball IQ, who was coached very well in high school by Mike Adams (from Edward Little).With Pat down low, I think we have a very strong team. Maybe not as big as some other ones, but that’s ok. Teams will have to match-up with us, and we won’t make it easy for them. “