2011-11-22 / Sports

Coaches make good use of preseason time

MPA winter preseason officially began Monday
BY GEORGE ALMASI Times Record Staff


The Maine Principal’s Association winter sports season officially began on Monday, although girls ice hockey had a two week head start, due to ice availability.

For Morse High School boys basketball coach Todd Flaherty, this week will provide “challenges” and insight to where the Shipbuilders are and where they need to be.

For Morse girls coach Mike Hart, this week is all about “teaching.”

“We had 30 kids out, so we should be alright freshman to grade 12,” said Flaherty, “The first two days we’ll spend assessing what we have coming back. And, what areas do we need to focus on.

“We won’t get into too much conditioning early on ... we just want to get everyone in the basketball mode. We also have some new ideas and some drills we want to use.”

“The next two weeks will be a lot of teaching,” added Hart, whose charges went 17-1 last year in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference. “We’ll work on the fundamentals and see where the kids are.

“I try not to do too much conditioning in the beginning because we want to see who has basketball skills. The game Friday night (Tip- Off Tournament in Augusta) will help. The numbers (30) are encouraging, offered Hart. “We had 11-12 freshmen out.”

“Yeah, our numbers are encouraging as well,” said Flaherty, whose charges are coming off an 0- 18 record, but Morse is now competing in Class B.

“We shouldn’t have any surprises (in the tryout sessions), we know who we have coming back, and Class B will be very challenging for us,” added Flaherty. “There are many teams in Class B that are very close. And, we don’t have much knowledge about these teams, so that will present a challenge as well.”

Morse kicks off the preseason Friday night in Augusta with the girls taking on Sanford at 6 p.m. and the boys meeting Mt. Ararat at 7:30 p.m.

Dragons at 6 a.m.

Brunswick boys basketball coach Todd Hanson holds tryouts the first two days and the first team practice at 6 a.m. on Wednesday.

“We then break for the Thanksgiving holiday and resume on Monday. This first week we really focus on conditioning,” said Hanson. “Tryouts are demanding, but with such a short window of time, the expectation of our program is that kids will and need to come into tryouts in shape.

Next week, the Dragons will start scrimmaging.

“We will start to implement and review the core philosophies of our program that were reinforced throughout the summer,” said Hanson. “ We have three scrimmages that second weekend to start to build on our offensive and defensive schemes.

“The period of growth between summer basketball and the winter sports season always brings a surprise or two. As a coaching staff, we are looking forward to seeing those who have made the leap both mentally and physically.

“I am very optimistic due to the fact that we have 11 returning players from last season’s tournament roster. This puts us a little bit ahead of where we were at the same point last winter. Each and every practice will be a fierce competition.”

Mt. Ararat girls coach Kelly LaFountain is in the same boat, although she’s dealing with youth after going 9-9 in the KVAC last year

“We devote the first two days to picking the teams, and in those sessions we look at conditioning, skills, attitudes, etc. We usually spend more time on defense and rebounding, with a few plays thrown in due to our participation in the McAuley Turkey Tip-Off on Friday. We basically have one day of practice after the teams are determined and then play two games, so it makes it tough to try to get a lot in.”

In the second week, the Eagles will shift gears.

“The second week will see the focus shift to offensive sets, out of bounds plays and plenty of conditioning and positional work,” said LaFountain. “During our preseason games we look to see how different combinations work together both offensively and defensively. These games will typically show us exactly what we need to work on before our opener and it gives us a chance to try some things out in game situations to see if we want to add things to our game plans.

LaFountain is excited to see how her girls have matured since last winter.

“Half of our teams last year were sophomores and a freshman, so we are excited to see the physical and mental growth of our returning players. I have noticed a difference in many of them and am anxious to see how they match up with other teams in the league in this way.

“There is always a lot of energy and excitement around the start of the season,” added the personable coach. “ Everyone has goals and dreams of having a great year. The key to any team’s success is keeping this energy alive the entire season and to be playing your best ball come February. We can’t wait to see what the new season brings!”

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