FAMRINGTON - Whether it’s head coach Ed Quick or one of his players, the Newington boys basketball team has a rule of sorts: Don’t talk about wins.
“We actually never do,” Quick said. “We talk about how can we get better. We spend a lot of time in the locker room talking about being all in with each other, fighting that whole mindset of making it me and making it about us.”
The way the Indians look at it, there isn’t a need to. Take care of the little things and the wins will eventually come. So far, through the first quarter of the regular season, it has worked.
Newington currently sits at 4-1, its lone loss coming in the Farmington Holiday Tournament to the host team. Over the Indians’ first four wins to start the year, they’ve shown an ability to win both close games - they beat Simsbury 48-45 in the season opener - and by a wide margin, like they did Thursday night when they beat St. Paul by 20.
It also marks a contrast to last year when Newington struggled at times to close out games or remain competitive in Quick’s first season as head coach. There were six games the team lost by 20 points or more. It wasn’t until the second-to-last game last season when the Indians secured their fourth win of the season.
Newington has a chance to match that win total from 2017-18 Wednesday when its hosts Manchester and should that game go awry, it has another 14.
A lot of that has to do with what Quick noted earlier, the Indians aren't too focused on the wins. Instead, they’re feeling more comfortable in what not only what their coach expects from them, but what to expect out of their teammates.
“I feel like this year, going into the offseason, we all knew what our plan was,” senior guard Jaden Morris said. “We came ready for this season. We were having summer workouts in 100-degree weather, inside, everywhere. We knew this was going to happen. We just have to keep building off it.”
At the same time, Newington knows if it wants to get back to the postseason or at least continue to stack up wins, it needs to continue to build. The Indians have had a habit of starting slow before finding a way to find their rhythm over the final 24 minutes of play, much as it did against the Falcons.
After some early mistakes, missed free throws and layups that allowed St. Paul to gain some momentum, Newington outscored its opponent 56-35 over the final three quarters.
“We need to learn how to play more consistently as a team,” senior guard Louis Egbuna said. “We need to be unselfish and when we do that, we go on these crazy runs. It’s good to know we’re doing well, but we haven’t even hit our peak yet. If we can play consistently for longer stretches of games, we can be a dangerous team.”
But as the players put it, it always comes back do the little things. And those always have to be accounted for.
“We just have to go out and compete,” senior forward Julian Ortiz said. “We want to get everyone going in the game. We want to make sure everyone feels good and gets theirs. We love seeing everyone doing well. If we compete, we’re going to be in games.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org