Winter’s wrath gives Naugy girls time to reflect

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NAUGATUCK — Mother Nature has given the Naugatuck girls basketball team a reprieve. This week, the Greyhounds hope to take advantage of it.

Tuesday’s scheduled game at Sacred Heart was canceled due to a winter storm that hit the area late Monday night. The Greyhounds, who have not played since Jan. 11, have lost three straight to fall to 3-9 overall and hope to create a winning streak over their last eight games.

Despite the time off, coach Jodie Ruccio said the team has used the time off to practice more and reflect on the past. The team has just passed the midway point of the season.

The last week has been a combination of teaching moments with the hope of preventing the mistakes that cost Naugy games during the first half of the year.

“We typically play better when we face teams the second time around,” Ruccio said.

When Naugy finally plays the Hearts, it will be their second meeting of the season. The Greyhounds lost to Sacred Heart, 55-31, on Dec. 10.

Twelve games into the season, time has yet to solve one issue that has been hampering the team’s progress—the search for a second go-to option on offense continues.

Lauren Piroscafo leads the team in scoring, ranking fifth in the Naugatuck Valley League with 16.1 points per game while taking about 20 shots a night. After that, Naugy’s offense has been inconsistent.

“I thought we could have developed a little more quickly,” Ruccio said.  “I thought someone would have stepped into that second scorer role.”

Ruccio said she has used a different starting lineup in every game, with the goal to establish a starting five. But, the clock is ticking on the season. The upside to using multiple lineups is that many players are seeing time on the court. That individual experience, especially with the young team the Hounds have, could pay off in the future.

“It’s a good thing to have the numbers [of players],” Ruccio said.

For example, on Jan. 11, freshmen guards Angelina Piccirillo and Jess Butler saw significant minutes.  Piccirillo scored seven points—the second-highest total for the Hounds that night.

“They’ve been a bright spot recently,” Ruccio said of the freshmen. “We have to find someone to help out in the scoring column. We’ve been one-dimensional with Lauren.”

In a Jan. 4 loss to Ansonia, shooting was the difference. Naugy missed 23 shots in the paint and lost 47-42.

Scoring has been tough, and improving the offense has been the focal point of practice over the last week.

“A lot of shooting drills,” Ruccio said of the focus of recent practices. “Specifically in places they’ll get shots in the game.”

Ruccio said the team’s goal is to qualify for the state tournament. To do so, they need to start winning.

“The effort and enthusiasm is there,” Ruccio said of the team’s current state. “I see them still listening and learning.  They’re playing and thinking they can win the next game.”