“Win the day. Win the drill. Win the game.”
First-year Head Coach Patrick Noone and the boys basketball team are taking it one step at a time at the beginning of a new chapter for PHS hoops. Last season, the team finished with an overall record of 8–17 and a divisional record of 2–6. With several returning upperclassmen this year, the team looks to have a bounce back season and make a push in the Colonial Valley Conference.Before focusing on the game itself, the team is working on strengthening the bond between the players and coaches.
“The most important thing right now is establishing a culture and a family vibe,” said Noone, who previously coached collegiately at Rutgers-Newark. “We’re focused on playing for each other and having each other’s back. When our seniors graduate, we want them to give back and be proud of where they came from.”
The team focused on last year’s defensive weaknesses in the pre-season.
“The main focus so far has really been playing defense as a team,” said Sam Serxner ’17, a guard. “We’ve been working on the fundamentals of defense and then using that to get out into transition and get on the fastbreak.”
Noone has personally worked with his players on the many aspects of team defense in preparation for the regular season, which began with a 57–41 win over West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South on December 16.
“We’ve been working on a lot of man-to-man defense and rotations,” Noone said. “A lot of our drills start out in one-on-one or two-on-two situations, eventually building up to five-on-five. We’ve brought it back to the fundamentals because defense is so important.”
In addition to team defense, this year’s team looks to take full advantage of its athleticism and use its transition offense as a way to score points and tire out its opponents.
“Our identity is definitely to run,” Serxner said. “We’re all about getting up the court fast and being athletic. We want to be an all-intense kind of team.”
The team’s transition game will look to propel the team’s offense which will likely be a strength of the team this season. Last season, the team was led offensively by shooting guard Matt Hart ’16, who averaged 23 points per game his senior year and eclipsed the 1000 point mark. Returning this season is forward Zahrion Blue ’17, who averaged 19 points per game as a junior.
“We have some very good athletes on our team who play really hard,” Noone said. “We can use our speed to not let the defense set up on us so we can push the ball up the court and get some quick, easy baskets.”
This year’s team is composed of nine seniors who are looking to take charge of the team. Blue, Serxner, Alex Fillion ’17, Andrew Goldsmith ’17, and Spencer Zullo ’17, make up the team’s starting five. This group has been playing together for the past three years in the program.
“As a group of seniors, we want to lead this team,” Blue said. “We want to lead by example and be role models for the underclassmen.”
Noone predicts that the experience the seniors have playing together will prove helpful on the court and in the locker room.
“The seniors work really well with each other and care for each other. They have all bought in and are playing as a class,” Noone said.
As the regular season gets into full swing, the team will set out to achieve some long-term goals to works towards throughout the season.
“It’s definitely a bit early, but I think we want to win at least 60 percent of our games this season,” Serxner said. “Also, a good goal would be to reach the Mercer County Tournament semifinals.”
“We don’t necessarily have concrete goals in terms of wins and losses because we don’t want to put a ceiling on our season,” Noone said. “We just want go all-out all the time. Win that drill. Win that day.”