BRISTOL - At first glance, the Berlin boys basketball teamâ€™s roster is one filled with plenty of veteran players - upperclassmen that have played meaningful minutes over the seasons.
That just hasnâ€™t necessarily been the case this season.
Even with six seniors and six juniors filling out the team, the Redcoats are still in the process of learning to play consistently at the varsity level.
â€śWe have some seniors but weâ€™re very inexperienced,â€ť Berlin head coach Mike Veneziano said. â€śWe returned eight points per game from last year.â€ť
At times, that inexperience has caused the Redcoats some issues as Berlin has struggled against bigger and more physical teams this season.
In the recent loss against Bristol Central, a tournament-bound team, the Redcoats once again struggled with rebounding in what has been a common theme for Berlin this season. The Redcoats have yet to beat a winning team this year.
Part of that has been the result of opposing teams being able to outrebound Berlin, an outlier from past teams at the school.
â€śWeâ€™re not a typical Berlin team,â€ť Veneziano said. â€śTypically weâ€™re physical, but this is a running team. We like to run but weâ€™ve got to be more physical on the defensive end. At times we go through stretches where weâ€™re not physical.â€ť
Berlin is currently 7-9 and on the verge of making the state tournament, but in order to get there, must clean up its game and figure out a way to create points in the paint.
â€śWe need to do a better job rebounding so we can run our transition offense,â€ť Veneziano said. â€ťWe have guys boxing people out but theyâ€™re not driving guys away from the basket. Sometimes you got to make the official make a call but if theyâ€™re bigger than you, you canâ€™t just get in front of them. You gotta try to drive them away from the basket and then go get the ball.â€ť
With three winning teams left on their schedule - Farmington, Simsbury and Middletown - the Redcoats will have an opportunity to address this issue and enter the postseason with confidence.
If Berlin doesnâ€™t, however, it could be an early exit in the playoffs.
But with the Redcoats having a break with their next game not coming until Saturday against the Indians, their progress playing against bigger and more physical teams will be something to watch as the postseason nears.
â€śFor our last six games we need to focus on being more physical on defense,â€ť Veneziano said. â€śWeâ€™ve done a good job scoring the ball but our toughness isnâ€™t always there.â€ť
Dan Orencole can be reached atÂ 860-973-1811, orÂ firstname.lastname@example.org