NEW BRITAIN - As he stood outside his teamâ€™s locker room Saturday night, New Britain boys basketball head coach Kurt Reis wanted an answer he knew was going to come over the next few days.
â€śDo we bounce back?â€ť he said. â€śThatâ€™s going to be a testament to who we are as a team. Do we bounce back? Do we make excuses about what happens? That includes me and making sure I do my job so that doesnâ€™t happen.â€ť
The Hurricanes had just lost in their holiday tournament final in overtime to East Lyme, a game in which they were winning by double digits in the second half, after the Vikingsâ€™ Dev Ostrowski decided to essentially take the floor over. The East Lyme senior finished with 42 points, 32 of which came over the final 20 minutes.
New Britain had had its chances late as well, it just couldnâ€™t come up with the plays it needed to. But it was even before Reis had posed the question, some of his players were already offering up the answers as they left the gym.
â€śWe just have to go up from here, work hard and make sure everything is where itâ€™s supposed to be,â€ť Hurricanes junior guard Thameen Dupree said.
In order to do that, both coach and players recognized there are some things that are going to have to be cleaned up, mistakes that are going to have to be addressed if New Britain wants to be in contention to make another run at a state title like it did last season. And that means more than just accounting for missed free throws, layup or turnovers.
â€śWe talk about the little thing,â€ť Reis said. â€śWhether itâ€™s a 50/50 ball that we need to get, a rotation that needs to happen or taking charges, those are the little things that donâ€™t show up in box scores that you need to do.â€ť
Some of that has to do with a number of players getting more minutes than they had last season, which has taken some time to get comfortable with. After all, the season is not even a quarter of the way over yet.
â€śItâ€™s going to take time, weâ€™re four games in [the season],â€ť Reis said. â€śWe have guys who didnâ€™t play a lot [last season] who are starting. As much as we have guys who are starting right now, thereâ€™s only three guys with varsity experience. So in time, it will come.â€ť
How much time the Hurricanes have is a good question. Outside of its conference games in the CCC, New Britain plays a rather tough schedule with East Lyme being a prime example of the kind of opponents it is sent to face.
That means that while the development of the players is set to happen, it just has to happen sooner rather than later. Even some teams with in the Hurricanesâ€™ conference, such as Newington and Farmington, are better.
â€śMy goal, this being my second year with a returning group, was to stack the schedule,â€ť Reis said. â€śWe knew [East Lyme] was one of the best teams in the state and itâ€™s about giving these guys what I think they can handle. I think playing against the best teams in the state is what we need to do. We played East Lyme that has one of the best players in the state. Weâ€™re playing Wilbur Cross [at home]. Weâ€™re playing Ledyard on the road, Stamford on the road so weâ€™re not playing any cupcakes.â€ť
And New Britain expects there to be plenty of bounce back.
â€śWe always start slow,â€ť senior guard Isaiah Jenkins said. â€śBut I donâ€™t expect us to make the same mistakes again.â€ť
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org