NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck High girls basketball team is getting ready for a new season with a new head coach on the sidelines.
Ron Plasky takes over this season as head coach for Jodie Burns, who stepped down after nine years leading the Greyhounds.
“It’s obviously going to be a change with a new coach,” said junior Alexis Woods, who will be counted on to be a presence in the paint this year. “But it will bring a new outlook on the season, as well.”
There shouldn’t be too much of a transition with the new coach since most of the girls played soccer for Plasky at City Hill Middle School over the past few years.
Plasky, who is just the third coach to roam the sidelines for the Greyhounds over the past 32 seasons, takes over a team that has struggled offensively the past couple of years.
Naugatuck, which finished 7-13 last year, scored four points or less in a quarter in nine of the team’s 13 losses and averaged 35 points per game last year. In 2014, the team averaged 28 points per game.
“There is no question that our offense needs to be more consistent,” Plasky said. “Our defense is going to get our offense going with points in transition. Our athleticism is going to be the key factor. We have some very good athletes on this team.
“Put backs, layups and foul shots are the essentials that you need to be successful. We need to take advantage of the opportunities that come our way during a game. We may not be a great shooting team but if we do the little things well we can more than make up for that.”
What has kept Naugatuck in the thick of things is a relentless defense that held opponents to single digits in at least one quarter in 19 of 20 games last year. That defensive effort will be key as the Greyhounds look to turn things around this season.
As the only seniors on the squad, Plasky will look to Michelle Cordova and Katie Jones to provide leadership. Along with Woods, fellow juniors Alyssa Peterson, Alyana Sosa and Molly Kennedy bring a lot of experience to the court.
“They have been working real hard,” said Plasky of the team. “Our post players have really been working on the fundamentals and getting better at finishing up opportunities under the boards. That is what is going to help us get the offense going and being more consistent.”
Naugy will also have a deep lineup with junior Bridget Rosikiewicz and sophomore Mia Rotatori playing valuable minutes. Sophomores Shannon Burns and Hailey Deitelbaum and freshman Hailey Russell should also provide minutes off the bench.
Injuries have held the Greyhounds back from reaching their full potential over the past couple of season. Peterson, who is returning from an ACL injury, can be part of changing that now that she is healthy.
“I’m ready for the season,” said Peterson, who will do her damage in the post. “I missed being on the court so much and did a lot of playing during the offseason to get ready for this.”
The Greyhounds are looking to get back to the state tournament after missing the playoffs the last two years.
“With a new coach we definitely have an opportunity to turn this around,” Sosa said. “It’s going to start with scoring more points than we have been.”
“It’s going to be a big change,” added Cordova on having a new coach. “But we have high expectations for the season.”
Naugatuck opens the season Dec. 13 at Sacred Heart and will be at Oxford on Dec. 16. The Greyhounds will play their first home game on Dec. 20 when they take on Kennedy.