BEACON FALLS — Those who have never seen what a five-guard offense looks like on the hardwood, might get their chance this winter by watching the Woodland boys basketball team.
With little frontcourt depth to be found, the Hawks are going to abandon the typical Valley style of hoops and try to exploit their speed this season.
“We’re excited,” said Kyle Macek, one of Woodland’s three seniors. “We’re a fast team. We don’t have much height, but we can use our speed to our advantage. We’re just going to get it and go. We don’t have the rebounders. We’ve got five guards on the floor, so we’re just going to go with it.”
Macek and Zach Bedryczuk, who earned All-Naugatuck Valley League Iron Division honors last season as a sophomore, will lead the backcourt. Other key players will include Jack LaPerriere, Mike Meier, Justin Marks and John Frasco. LaPerriere and Frasco are the Hawks’ other two seniors.
Longtime Woodland coach Tom Hunt, who enters his 11th season leading the Hawks, admitted that with the lack of height and depth in the frontcourt, he and his staff decided that the team needed to focus on its transition game this winter.
“We’re a little undersized, so I don’t think we could really play a half-court type of game,” Hunt said. “We’re going to look to push tempo to see if we can get some easy shots in transition. The guys have been buying into it, so now we have to be able to knock down those shots.”
Hunt likes his team’s speed, but the Hawks’ more important strength in his eyes is their unselfish style.
“Right now the strength of the team is how much they’re willing to play together and for each other,” Hunt said. “A lot of guys want to share the ball, and that’s good when you’re trying to get all five guys involved.”
Woodland finished 3-17 last year but improved over the second half of the season. The Hawks opened the year on a 12-game losing streak before winning three of their last eight and losing two other games by a combined seven points.
Armed with some confidence from that improvement and a wide-open playing style, Woodland has its sights set on a return to the state tournament for the first time since 2014. This season also marks the return of the divisional format in the postseason, which separates teams by recent success and traditional strength. The Hawks would play in Division V, the lowest of the five divisions, if they reach the eight-win qualification mark.
“The first goal that we’re setting is to find eight wins on the schedule,” Hunt said. “If we can find eight wins, I think the sky’s the limit for us. That goal is our top priority.”
Woodland will tip off the season Tuesday at St. Paul before the home opener Thursday against Seymour. The Hawks will finish the calendar year with games at Ansonia on Dec. 27 and at Thomaston on Dec. 29.