NEW BRITAIN - The New Britain boys basketball team is starting to satisfy its need for speed.
Watch a full game of Hurricanes action, and seldom will you see a halfcourt set or a player standing still, patiently waiting for a play to develop.
Head coach Kurt Reis wants his team to run, and use their blazing speed to burn opponents in transition. For the past two games (both New Britain wins), Reis’ crew has kicked things into another gear, using their active defense to force turnovers and create a plethora of fast break opportunities.
“The objective is always to put the ball in the basket, but if we can limit the opponent with the amount of speed we have, it puts us in a better position to win,” Reis said. “The kids have been doing a better job the last few games.”
In the past two games alone, the Hurricanes have racked up a combined 172 points, winning both contests by a combined margin of 82 points. Tuesday night’s win against Rocky Hill saw New Britain thoroughly harass the Terriers with a swarming full court press, leading to a whopping 27 turnovers, which in turn led to a large majority of the Hurricanes’ offensive surge. They wasted no time in setting that theme for the night by scoring 12 of their first 17 points off turnovers to put the game out of reach before the Terriers could blink.
“Most of our points are from fast breaks, mostly off steals,” New Britain junior Tahmeen Dupree said after pouring in a game-high 17 points Tuesday night. “We’re always communicating. We talk and we play together.”
That sense of togetherness and a thirst to move the ball around often leads to a balanced scoresheet. For the second-straight game, the Hurricanes finished with at least three players in double figures. On Tuesday night, 11 different players made a basket during their 91-point explosion. In another victory back in December, during the team’s regular season opener, four different New Britain players finished in double figures.
With the ball always moving, there’s no telling who will put the final touch on an offensive possession that takes just seconds to complete. Most possessions are finishing up while the Hurricanes are still on the defensive end. As soon as their full court press traps an opponent, the Hurricanes break for the basket, anticipating another opportunity to get out in open space and turn on the jets.
For the past two games, the Hurricanes have been cleared for takeoff, leaving divisional opponents in the dust.
So, as the season nears the midway point, have the Hurricanes found their identity? Are lockdown defense and scintillating speed now ingrained in New Britain’s DNA? Reis certainly believes so.
“It has to be,” Reis said. “It’s something we’ve worked on as the season goes on. As coaches, we have to put our kids in the best position to win.”
Dupree offered a much more concise response, more fitting to the Hurricanes’ blink-and-you’ll-miss-it style of play. Asked if speed is the identity of his team, Dupree quickly responded with an emphatic “Yes.”