PLAINVILLE - For the second consecutive season, Plainville High School had a team go winless. With Tuesday’s loss to Berlin, the Blue Devils boys basketball team finished its season with a record of 0-20.
But even through the trying times, the Blue Devils never let the losses get to them.
“There wasn’t any,” Plainville coach Jim DiNello said when asked if there were ever any problems getting his team emotionally ready to play. “I’m extremely proud of them and the way they handed themselves this year. I don’t think there was ever a day where they came out to practice and didn’t try to do their best and I don’t think there was ever a night that they stepped on the floor, regardless of what the record was, where they didn’t think if they played well they would have a chance to win.”
Speaking for the players, sophomore Brady Callahan felt the same way.
“It wasn’t that hard because we’re just trying to get better every day [and] not worry about the scoreboard,” he said.
Callahan was also a member of the Plainville football team that itself finished without a victory this past fall, which he said helped him understand how to handle it and what it takes to move past it.
“It kind of puts things into perspective,” he said. “Just how we need to get better and work in the offseason. A lot of work needs to be done.”
The Blue Devils suffered an average margin of defeat of 29.75 points this season but DiNello was still impressed with how they kept working and fighting despite consistently taking hard losses.
“They say sometimes you learn a lot more about people when they’re losing than you do when they’re winning and I think our guys exhibited a lot of character,” he said. “I don’t know that you would find too many people, especially young people, who would go through what they just went through for a year and handle it the way they did. I can’t say enough nice things about them and everything they tried to do and how they handled themselves, most importantly.”
Plainville was a very young team this season and will only be losing two seniors this summer. But DiNello knows that his team will need to do more than just get older and more experienced.
“I say this every year. Just because you come back a year older doesn’t mean you’re going to come back a year better or just because you come back a year bigger doesn’t mean you’re going to come back a year better,” he said. “The bottom line is they have to do the things that they need to do to be good basketball players: a lot of offseason work, a lot of time in the weight room, a lot of shots up every day, a lot of weak-hand ball work and all those things.
“If they don’t do those things and they just come in with one more year tacked onto their driver’s license in terms of their age, it’s not going to make a hill of beans. It’s got to be better, not just older, not just bigger. It’s got to be better. But I do hope that what they’ve gone through this year will make them come back hungry. And we did get a lot of young guys a lot of very valuable experience so, from that perspective, we’ll see.”
But the tenacity and dedication that he saw from his players this season showed DiNello that they were giving their all. For him, that’s the biggest thing he is going to take away from this season and this group.
“They tried to play the game the right way, tried to grow as individuals more than anything else,” DiNello said, “and I think, for young guys, I really think that they did mature, basketball aside. I always say that if you do this right in interscholastic sports that you’re coaching way more than the sport. That will never change with our guys and with the way I believe things should be.
“To their credit, I really just feel like they tried to do the right thing, they tried to handle themselves the right way and I’m extremely proud of them for that. I can’t fault them for that. All you can ask for is somebody’s best and I think, on most days, they gave their best.”
Josh Kestenbaum can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @K_baum30