Tiger boys' basketball team in rebuilding mode

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Thompson - posted Mon., Dec. 3, 2012
Coach Tony Falzarano and assistant coach Neil Bernier talk with 2012 graduate Evan Touchette at a recent practice. Photos by D. Coffey.
Coach Tony Falzarano and assistant coach Neil Bernier talk with 2012 graduate Evan Touchette at a recent practice. Photos by D. Coffey.

Coach Tony Falzarano had his basketball players do a 2-on-1 drill the length of the court and back on Nov. 28. The Tourtellotte Tigers' coach – and players - had their work cut out them. With only two returning varsity players, they face a tough battle to get ready for the season.

Shawn Houle averaged 7.6 points per game last season and will be the Tigers' point guard. Kaevon Safford averaged 9.5 points per game last year. Rounding out the starting lineup will be seniors Mike Benkowski and Shane Alexander, who played JV last season. Juniors Mike Jezierski, Harrison Padula and Nate Jewell are the top newcomers, along with sophomore Raif Santerre.  

The team lacks experience, height, speed and depth, according to Falzarano. “When you lack height, when you lack depth, when you lack experience, you  have to go to my standard – which is defense,” said Falzarano.  “If you don't have size but you have good speed, then you can press teams. We can't do that. I have to go away from my traditional man-to-man defense. We're going to have to play some zone to survive.”

He's been drilling it into his players that they must attack the rim. “If there's a loose ball, we have to get it. You have to think nobody, but nobody, but nobody, but Benkowski is going to get that rebound. Or nobody, but nobody, but nobody but Padula is going to get that rebound. That's how you have to think every day, every practice.”

His offensive strategy will be to get his players to slow the game down a bit. “These guys have got to be patient on offense, which is a hard thing to teach kids,” he said. “They want to run.”

“I don't want to coach average kids; I want to coach very good players,” he said. “All I want in this gym are kids who are going to donate everything they have. Win or lose – if you do that, I can't say anything. We will get beat by better teams. The only way you lose is if five kids out there are better than us. And it happens. But when inferior teams beat us, I go crazy.”

The Tigers won the ECC small championship last year. They won the Clipper Classic two years in a row. “They have to hold that honor,” Falzarano said.


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