NEW BRITAIN - Matching its best start as a program since 2011-12 with an 11-1 record, with all wins coming by double digits, the Goodwin Tech boys basketball team brings talent to the floor every night.
The Gladiators, though, have some advantages this season that the school’s former teams haven’t under 19th year head coach Reuben Charles - a new five-division tournament format, better team chemistry and the willingness to listen and learn.
With it, Goodwin Tech has its eyes on a deep tournament run.
“We keep getting better and better each day,” Gladiators senior guard Frank Santiago said. “If we can keep doing that, I definitely think we can get a state ring, a conference championship.
“The difference between this year and every other year I’ve been here is this year we actually play together. Everybody plays as a unit.”
The new five-division tournament setup was instituted this year to generate a more level playing field.
Goodwin Tech, playing in Division IV, believes that the new setup will be beneficial to a tournament run.
“I think we have a great shot this year,” Charles said, “because of how they restructured the [playoffs] and all of that. I’m looking at our division, the fourth division, and the schools that are within that division, I think we can beat any school on any given day.
“And that’s what I keep telling them. Because I’ve seen some of the schools play and I think we’re right there with them. It’s all about heart and the will to win.”
The Gladiators, currently, are tied for first place in the division with Kolbe Cathedral and Northwestern.
With the opportunity there, Goodwin Tech must shake what has hurt the program in prior seasons.
“We always start strong,” Charles said. “But for some reason after we play 15-20 games it seems like they get tired, they get bored or they just don’t want to play no more.
“My job this year is to try to keep them focused and keep mentioning what the prize is and what the opportunities are to get into the state finals, and they have a great opportunity in front of them. I just need to keep reminding them that and keep them motivated to play basketball.”
With three key seniors on their roster that have played since coming to the school as freshmen, experience and the willingness to get better has been a big difference and one that should prevent a late-season lapse for the Gladiators.
“This year’s group is different in that they tend to listen more,” Charles said. “You give them advice and strategies we’re going to use on the floor. I keep reminding them what a great opportunity they have ahead of them and it keeps them motivated.”
Goodwin Tech will be a team to watch in Division IV and this year’s talented group is on a mission, taking the necessary steps needed to reach that next level.