Strength in numbers for Killingly Redmen

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Mon., Dec. 10, 2012
Devan Willard and Max Graves will lead the Redmen. Photos by D. Coffey.
Devan Willard and Max Graves will lead the Redmen. Photos by D. Coffey.

The Killingly High School boys' basketball team has a new head coach in Jim Crabtree. With numbers up this year, the school has also reinstated its freshman basketball program after a two-year hiatus. But the Redmen will have to make the best of a program heavy with underclassmen who haven't had the time or experience of varsity play.

“The numbers are up, which is a strength,” said Crabtree. “The problem is our upper class is very thin. Many of the players aren't at the varsity caliber of play yet, due to the fact that for two years there was no freshman program. We lost kids. Kids sitting on the bench who didn't get time to play, for whatever reason, walked away. You lose them. That's what it is in this day and age.”

So on top of his varsity coaching duties, Crabtree will oversee the freshman program as well. Assisting him will be Dave Casserti and volunteer Ron Frechette. On Dec. 6, the three watched as the boys ran a 2-on-1 drill down the court and a fast break coming back. Crabtree wanted them to get their legs loose and their blood flowing. “I want to see them making good decisions on the fast break,” he said. “Then we'll work on defensive skills.”

The Redmen will need to perfect those defensive skills as they take on more experienced teams in the ECC division. Five of his players are ready for varsity play. Seniors Max Graves at forward and Devan Willard at guard will lead the team with their varsity experience. Crabtree is waiting on word about senior Tum Tum Souriyamath to see if and when he can return to the guard position. Some of his juniors are showing promise by working hard at practice, including Nick Hewitt, Austin Taylor and James Saritelli. But just because many of his players have little experience behind them, doesn't mean he won't call on them to step in when necessary. “The freshmen are practicing with us 80 percent of the time,” Crabtree said.

He predicts it will be an interesting year. “The positive thing since day one when I walked into the gym was the kids have run through the wall for me,” he said. “They've done anything I've asked. They worked themselves into shape. They want to compete. We get better every day and that's all I'm asking. I don't want to sell the team short this year, but it will be a roller coaster of a year. There will be good nights and there will be bad nights. If we continue to work and get better every day, hopefully there will be more good nights than bad nights. I won't make any predictions. It's day to day, week to week. One day you could be on the freshmen squad, the next day you could be on JV and the next you could be on varsity. It's time to step up their game.”

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