Core of E.O. Smith boys' basketball roster has experience

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Storrs - posted Mon., Jan. 27, 2014
Rahim Mama warms up before a Jan. 17 game against Bloomfield. Photos by Melanie Savage.
Rahim Mama warms up before a Jan. 17 game against Bloomfield. Photos by Melanie Savage.

Last year’s E.O. Smith boys’ varsity basketball team finished up the season with an 11-9 record and was knocked out of the post-season during round two of the state playoffs. “Last year we had a team with little varsity experience, and this year we have four returning starters,” said head coach Ron Pires. Several of this year’s seniors help form the core of a capable, fast-moving team that has started the 2013-14 season with a 7-2 record.

Tony Bell “has worked hard to improve his game,” according to the coach, and is the team’s starting point guard. “He runs our offense well and will score when needed,” said Pires.

Senior Mitchell Foster “is our leading rebounder, and we rely on his inside play offensively and defensively,” said Pires. “He has to play bigger than he is and is improving every day.”

Hunter Hamlin “has proven to be very instrumental on defense,” said Pires. “He is one of our top defensive players and will score points for the team. He is one of our top three scorers.”

Senior Carlos Ovalle is one of the team’s leading scorers and defensive players. “He can go inside and out and works very hard at his game. He also will play the point guard position,” said Pires.

Senior John DeVecchis played on the junior varsity team last year and is working hard for playing time. “He has really helped our team by making Tony work hard in practice,” said Pires. “I’m very pleased on how John is working to improve our team and his ability.”

Senior Matthew Glista is playing varsity basketball for the first time. “Matt is a player who has been working on his skills the past two years and has come a long way,” said Pires. “He works hard in practice and shoots the ball well.”

Other players playing big roles on this year's team are Connor Knecht (junior), John Nollet (junior), Rahim and Raman Mama (juniors), Brandon Desautels (sophomore), and Brad Walden (sophomore). “All of these players have contributed to the team throughout the year in practice and in the games,” said Pires. “They know they have to come to practice every day ready to improve, and be ready to come off the bench during the game ready. Together we all know that we need to work hard and improve every day.”

The team’s strength, said Pires, “is that we are learning to play team defense and our goal is always to help and be positive to each other.” Players are working on “being a better rebounding team and trying to improve on all areas of the game.” Pires said the team has already faced some tough opponents during the first half of the season, but that other challenges still lie ahead.

“I feel the team has accepted the challenge so far this year, as we have played better than five hundred ball against teams like Simsbury, Rocky Hill, Windham, Glastonbury, RHAM, Hartford Public, Fermi and Bloomfield,” said Pires. “This team is learning to understand their roles and is working hard to improve every day.” The season goal, said Pires, “is to come every day ready to practice/play and do our best.”

The team captains for the E.O. Smith varsity basketball team are Tony Bell, Mitchell Foster, Hunter Hamlin and Carlos Ovalle. Assistant coaches are Len Reed and Michael Mellady.

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