BERLIN - With five games remaining on its schedule and in midst of a slump, the Berlin boys basketball team needs to regroup, and do so quickly.
“We have some serious issues going on that the coaches and the captains will resolve,” Berlin head coach Mike Veneziano said. “I don’t know a team that plays more players than us, but we have some guys that are unhappy. It’s affecting their play and its affecting how they are as teammates. But everyone’s been given an opportunity. There’s not a person on the team that can say they didn’t get an opportunity.”
The Redcoats have lost four of their last five games, due in large part to the execution on the floor as a team and the lack of ability to shut down the opposing team’s best player.
“We aren’t playing together,” Berlin junior leading scorer Gianni Fanelli said. “We have to find that strength that we had in the first half of the season that made us successful and we won more games than we lost. We have to play as a team.”
It stood out against Farmington when the Redcoats didn’t go after a loose ball and the Indians picked up an offensive rebound, which ignited a scoring run.
“If [guys drifting in their own directions] is noticeable to the coaches on the bench, it’s got to be painfully noticeable to the people in the stands,” Veneziano said.
Stopping leading scorers has also contributed to the woes for Berlin this year.
“It’s been an issue all season,” Veneziano said. “[Wethersfield’s Michael] Mozzicato shredded us. [Farmington’s Jake] Sytulek shredded us tonight. [Bristol Central’s Jaekwon] Spencer did.”
The talent for the Redcoats is there, which makes the slide even tougher to see for Veneziano and his staff.
Following the game, Veneziano addressed the issue.
“What we talked about after the game was from here on out, if you’re going to be good teammates we’ll get into the tournament,” Veneziano said. “If you continue to be the way you are, we’re not going to get into the tournament. More important than fixing your game individually is just being a good teammate at this point. Because I think if we become good teammates for the last five games then we can have some success.”
For the Redcoats, the five games remaining are against Simsbury, Platt, Maloney, Hartford Public and Middletown.
Berlin needs one win to qualify for the state tournament.
“We’re having a hard time as coaches figuring out how you could have seven wins and be one win away from the state tournament and not come together as a team,” Veneziano said. “It’s something we discussed in the locker room afterward and they have to make the decision.”
Whether the Redcoats make the tournament or not is up to their performance on the floor.
One thing is certain: Veneziano and his coaching staff are going to make sure the five guys on the floor are in sync with each other.
“We’re going to play as a team these last five games,” Veneziano said. “That was the focus after the game and I can assure you that.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org