NAUGATUCK — Ron Plasky is no stranger to the sidelines.
Plasky spent six seasons as an assistant coach for the Naugatuck High girls basketball team under former head coach Keith Raczkowski. For 18 years, he patrolled the sidelines as a head coach for Hillside and City Hill.
At the University of Rhode Island, Plasky was the athletic trainer and assigned to the men’s basketball team. At URI, he had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of coaching under coaches Tom Penders, Al Skinner and Brendan Malone, who become the first coach for the Toronto Raptors.
“I was able to watch these guys every day at practice,” Plasky said. “I learned a lot from being around these coaches and have taken those lessons on to my coaching assignments.
“At the middle school level I always treated it like the high school program because my job was to get these kids ready for that next step. I try and teach them every aspect of the game, and of course you do need to bring it down to their level.”
Through Plasky’s first six games as head coach for the Naugatuck High girls basketball team, the Greyhounds are 2-4 following losses to Waterbury Career, 51-38, on Tuesday, and to Sacred Heart, 34-31, on Wednesday.
Naugatuck and Waterbury Career were tied at 20 at halftime before the Spartans pulled away in the second half. Alyssa Peterson led the Greyhounds with 11 points.
The Greyhounds held a slim, 13-11 lead at halftime over Sacred Heart. The Hearts edged out Naugatuck in the second half to take the three-point win. Molly Kennedy led Naugatuck with 11 points.
The Greyhounds have shown they can play solid defense and at times put some points on the board. Consistency on offense will be the key to the team’s success.
So far 12 players have made it into the scoring column, which bodes well for the offense, but there have been lapses that have allowed opponents to pull away at time.
“I never invented anything when it comes to the game of basketball,” Plasky said. “I watched and I learned and I try and impart that knowledge to the kids to help them become better basketball players. It takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight, and sometimes you just need to be patient and allow them the time to grow.”
Plasky has a few capable hands to see the team through the growing process. Four players have reached double digit figures in scoring in a game. Kennedy has reached double figures three times. Peterson, Alyana Sosa and Hailey Deitelbaum have each done it once.
Mia Rotatori and Bridget Rosikiewicz have scored eight points in a game, and Alexis Woods and Peterson have scored in all six games for the Greyhounds.
Michelle Cordova has made her presence felt in her time on the court, and Shannon Burns and Alissa McNeil have made the most out of their minutes off the bench. In the Greyhounds’ 58-14 victory Dec. 22 over Wilby, Hailey Russell and Hannah Biondo got into the scoring column as well.
“It’s a bit of a learning experience for me as well,” Plasky said. “The first time around the NVL you don’t know a lot about these teams, and after the first three minutes of the game you need to figure out the who, what and why and make adjustments on the fly.
“It’s definitely a process. We can’t start over every day at practice. We need to continue to build on what we are learning and that comes with developing their basketball IQ for the game.”
Naugatuck jumped out to an early 21-2 advantage against the Wildcats with Sosa scoring eight of the Greyhounds’ first 12 points. Kennedy led the way with 12 points, and Deitelbaum came off the bench to score 10 points and pull down seven rebounds.
The Greyhounds did go through a tough stretch against the Wildcats, managing just six points in the second quarter.
“I told them you can’t expect to be successful when you go through phases like that,” Plasky said. “In the Kennedy game we missed a layup and then missed a put-back right before the half. Those are the points we need to get if we are going to beat a team like Kennedy.”
The Greyhounds will be back on the court Jan. 3 when they host St. Paul.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the article that ran in the Dec. 30 print edition to include statistics through the Sacred Heart game, which was played after press time, on Dec. 28.