By KEN MOORE
The Plainville boys basketball team is taking aim at turning around last season’s 0-20 winless campaign.
Inexperience had a lot to do with the final outcome as the Blue Devils only had two seniors— Jared Demons and Camden Clifford— to go along with two juniors and 10 sophomores.
This season PHS returns two seniors Jailen Lindsey and Antonio Garcia to go along with a host of juniors who gained valuable varsity minutes last year and according to head coach Jim DiNello the team is moving in the right direction.
There were a lot of growing pains to go around but in the process there was a lot of varsity minutes to gain some experience. Success and experience don’t always go hand in hand but what the Blue Devils have in their favor is they have a team loaded with athletic talent.
They may not be basketball savvy yet, but they certainly know how to turn a negative into a positive. Several members of the team recently completed the football season and it was a season of success going 5-5 after a 0-10 campaign the year before.
They face similar circumstances on the basketball court and coach DiNello in his fourth season is optimistic that the team is heading in the right direction.
“Our biggest challenge will be our inexperience,” said DiNello. “Because we are still a very young team as far as varsity experience is concerned. We will need to rely on our inside play because we don’t have that go-to scorer who can consistently put up double digits.”
Assistant coaches Jeff Smedick and Shane Taylor along with volunteer assistant coaches Tom Lombardo and Austin Butler have been putting the team through the paces and several scrimmages are planned to see where the team is and where they need to go.
“I think as a team they are in a much better place this season,” said DiNello. “They understand the speed of the varsity game and they know what to expect from the competition. That is half the battle right there.”
Make no mistake about it; having the will to win is one thing. Facing opponents who you can be competitive with is another issue entirely and that dilemma hasn’t escaped coach DiNello.
Plainville will face just four teams this season that fall in the Class S and M divisions with 16 other opponents from the larger Class L and LL divisions. That is a tell tale sign of just what the Blue Devils are up against.
“That’s just the nature of the beast with most of the CCC teams being in the larger divisions,” continued DiNello. “I’ll tell you what, if and when we make the state tournament, I would not want to draw us, as our season will certainly have us prepared to play in the new Division IV this season.”
The CIAC has instituted a new set of divisions this season in hopes of making things a bit more competitive but that does little to rectify any irregularities during the regular season. There still will be mismatches on the court even with the new five division system in place for the state tournament.
Junior captain Brady Callahan will run the point for the Blue Devils after gaining significant varsity minutes last season. Senior Jailen Lindsey will be at the forward spot to run a little interference in the paint.
Juniors Sam Lestini and Jason Mills will be under the boards to give the Blue Devils a rebounding presence with junior Pierre Ramirez at the guard/forward position to help set up the offense. Sophomore Will Cross will be the number six man and lend support at the guard position.
“Our execution must be flawless,” added DiNello. “Discipline and structure will be the key at both ends of the court. In order to be competitive we are going to need several players putting points on the board.”
“I’m hoping that our overall athleticism will allow us to be a fairly successful transitional team. We do have a little bit of length so I’m looking for that to help us defensively,” said Dinello.
“We are going to have to be physical and push the pace of play a little bit. It remains to be seen how we handle that. We are definitely going to have to play bigger than our height to be competitive especially against the larger schools that we will face.”
Dinello said, “The bottom line is you still need to put the ball in the basket to give yourself a chance to win. The attitude of the team is great and they are looking forward to the season and we are certainly a team heading in the right direction.”
Plainville will get the season underway on Saturday, Dec. 16 at 6:45 p.m. when they host Enfield. The following Tuesday, Plainville will be at Maloney before returning home on Friday, Dec. 22 when they take on Berlin prior to gearing up for the holiday tournament the Rybczyka Memorial on Wednesday and Thursday Dec. 27 and 28.
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