NAUGATUCK – Renee Augustine knew the day would come.
As a junior on last year’s Naugatuck girls’ basketball team, Augustine watched six seniors display their skills, take control on and off the court and be go-to players. Knowing those six players would not be back this year, Augustine prepared over the summer for her new responsibilities—as scorer, defender and leader.
This year, it’s Augustine’s turn to be in the spotlight.
“I thought about it during the offseason,” Augustine said of her standing on this year’s team. “I knew I had to step up my game.”
In many ways, Augustine believes she has improved. Rebounding has been a point of emphasis and Augustine has focused on the finer points of grabbing missed shots.
“I need to box out and focus more,” Augustine said after practice on Tuesday.
Despite being undersized as a frontcourt player, Augustine has been a true team player when it comes to playing a position. At 5-foot-6, Augustine usually matches up against bigger players.
“She’s an athlete”, Naugy coach Jodie Ruccio said of Augustine. “She works hard all the time and she’s very coachable.”
That combination of putting the team before herself and constantly soaking up information has put Augustine on a new level. Ruccio has been especially impressed with Augustine’s ability to learn from her miscues.
“She corrects mistakes immediately,” Ruccio said.
Augustine recalled a game last season that illustrates her willingness to get better. While going for a rebound, she was out of position and took an elbow that broke her nose.
This year, her attention to detail in the area of rebounding has improved.
“I’ve realized the mistakes I’ve made on the court and want to show that I can be better,” Augustine said.
Augustine also wants to be more of a scorer. More specifically, she’s worked on ball-handling.
“I want to handle the ball more in the post and make shots,” Augustine said.
On the eve of a new season, Augustine was excited about the Greyhounds.
“We’re going to be pretty good,” Augustine said. “We can handle the ball, we have speed and have really worked hard on defense.”
She noted the team’s progress during the exhibition schedule. Naugy was competitive in just about every game, Augustine said.
Augustine knows the team is young. But it’s also hungry.
“We’re young, so it can be frustrating at times,” Augustine said. “But the team is hard-working and intelligent. All they need is some experience.”