BEACON FALLS — The Woodland boys basketball team lost its two leading scorers from one of its best teams ever. So it seems perfectly irrational for Tom Hunt to be more excited about this season than ever.
But Hunt, entering his fifth season with the Hawks, can’t remember a team he has enjoyed coaching this much so early in the year.
“I knew going into this season that this was going to be the most fun season I’ve had,” said Hunt, who is assisted by JV coach Mike Kingsley and freshman coach Shane Kingsley, a former two-year starting point guard at Woodland. “I might be relatively inexperienced, but this is the most coachable group I’ve had. There’s a togetherness that they bring and it shows on the court. I can’t be more excited than I am this year.”
With the graduations of Yahmad Rountree (18.0 ppg), Ian Bures (3.5 ppg), Sean Deegan (3.3 ppg), and the transfer of Rahmi Rountree (11.9 ppg), Woodland has plenty of holes to fill.
Senior forward Ryan Angeloszek (10.7 ppg), the only returning starter, is expected to be one of the stronger inside presences in the league. Only he and sophomore guard Tanner Kingsley (6.5 ppg) played in all 23 of Woodland’s games last season.
But the relative lack of experience and star power in the Hawks’ lineup is actually proving to be somewhat of a good thing in Hunt’s eyes.
“We have been playing some real team-oriented basketball in the preseason,” Hunt said. “We are making the extra pass and playing some really unselfish basketball. I feel like everybody on this team has a role and knows their role.”
Angeloszek and Kingsley will be joined in the starting lineup by senior guard Billy Alfiere and senior forward Dan Giacomazzi. Junior guards Dave Uhl and Steve Baeder will also likely share starts and contribute to the backcourt scoring.
With a smaller, guard-heavy squad, Hunt said this year’s team will play a different style than the slower, more physical teams of the past.
“You have to adapt to your personnel each year,” Hunt said. “With no real inside presence, we have become a little more perimeter-oriented. We’re getting up and down the floor a little bit better than we have in the past.”
Alfiere think this year’s Hawks are a unique bunch that hasn’t been seen before in the Woods.
“We have a whole new identity as a basketball team and a very different style of play than Woodland basketball is used to,” Alfiere said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun playing with this group because of the unselfishness we have. We are going to play team basketball this year.”
Teamwork and sharing the basketball could lead to a balanced and explosive offense.
“I think that on any given night, any one of five guys—Angeloszek, Alfiere, Kingsley, Uhl, or Baeder—can be a high scorer,” Hunt said. “The brand of basketball that we’re putting out is going to be much more exciting than it has been in the past. As opposed to winning at the finish line, we want to be waiting at the finish line.”
Adding depth to the frontcourt will be senior forwards Dave Alves and Jamie Marticello and junior forward Kirk Chamenko. They will be key when the Hawks try to revert to a slower pace against city schools.
“We’re going to be smart and heady when we play those city schools about when we push and when we pull it out,” Hunt said. “We’ll take what they give us and hold our own on the defensive end.”
Woodland starts its season on Dec. 14 at St. Paul before its home opener against Watertown on Dec. 16. From what he’s seen so far, Hunt thinks his team has potential.
“I think we’re going to surprise some teams,” Hunt said. “If people don’t come out to see the Hawks this season, they’ll be cheating themselves.”