Give and Go... The Unofficial Blog of Coach Mike Olson.
WEDNESDAY / MARCH 5 / 2014
Valient effort as we plowed our way through the tournament. Great game at Wilbraham in the semi-finals as we hit on all cylinders and won handily 61-37. Sunday saw the 'Cats move to Endicott College for the NEPSAC AA title game against Cushing. Despite some positive play we fell 78-70 in a hard-fought final. We knew we needed to stop their running game and we did not do a good enough job. Time and time again their trio of elite guards got out ahead of us. Disappointing end result after a fine season. We ended 21-7, no issues, no drama, just good kids!
William and Mary commit Oliver Tot was a gutsy leader for us down the stretch. He upped his game the final month and really had a pretty strong title game---finishing with nine points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists, and zero turnovers. North Carolina State -bound Malik Abu solidified himself as perhaps New Englands top senior. Despite double and triple teaming all season he was able to post 23 points and 11 rebounds per game. UMBC guard Malcolm Brent was superb in the playoffs. His overall skill set and leadership was evident. Gritty junior Crew Ainge hit big shots and played tough defense all winter---no question he is an ascending player. Duby Maduegbunam averaged over seven rebounds a game and had several big offensive games as well. Our bench was very good and helped us win many games. I really liked our depth and chemistry this year. Despite losing the championship we have much to be proud of!
The enthusiasm surrounding our program is gratifying---we have great fans and institutional support. Thanks to all...time to reload!
FRIDAY / FEBRUARY 28 / 2014
Semi-finals set for tomorrow at Wilbraham! The time is now...we have been preparing for this weekend since Labor Day and it is finally here. We are thrilled to play such a quality opponent and look forward to the challenge. WM is lead by their high-scoring wing tandem (Hoeltzel and Cobb), they feature a terrific point guard (Fortin), and a nice duo of post players (Goodluck and Petteway). We know it is a tough team and environment---and we embrace the challenge. We leave KUA at 10:30 with tip set for 2:00.
Very pleased and relieved we survived the Quarterfinal matchup with VA. Fortunate to win 54-51. Big baskets down the stretch from Crew Ainge and Oliver Tot, and outstanding defense throughout. Our home crowd gave us a big lift and the emotion and intensity in the gym was extremely high. I like the fact that we fought through some adversity. VA had a four point lead with 6 minutes remaining and were on a two-on-one break to up the lead to six. Nathan Hall took a charge in a very close call---and we controlled the stretch run. Huge play!
Malik Abu leads our team in scoring (23ppg) and rebounding (12), Duby Maduegbunam adds 12 points and 6.8 rebounds, Crew Ainge is averaging 12 points and 4.5 assists per game, Malcolm Brent chips in nine points a game and Oliver Tot adds 9 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds a game. We have had nice bench contributions from Nathan, Bennett Grigull, Charlie Williams, and Max Silveira lately. Our depth will be an important factor this weekend---we will need some positive plays, not necessarily highlight reel plays but just little things like a tip, a charge, a box-out. Oftentimes it is the non- box score plays that make the difference.
KUA is 20-6 overall and now 15-2 against Class AA competition. We understand what's at stake and look forward to the weekend! Go 'Cats!!
THURSDAY / FEBRUARY 20 / 2014
The day's are flying by and playoff fever is in the air! Big win last night at rival Vermont--67-59. Crew Ainge put on a shooting clinic in the first half connecting on five straight three point attempts. Duby Maduegbunam hit back-to-back baskets down the stretch and Nathan Hall's defense throughout were key factors in our win. Duby finished with 16 points---Ainge 21---while Oliver Tot contributed 11 points, 8 rebounds and six assists. Malik Abu, who averages over 23 points a game, was bottled up by the VA zone and finished with 15. Good bounce-back effort after disappointing loss Monday at Wilbraham. We now sit at 14-1 in Class AA play with a final road game at Marianapolis. Playoff pairings will be announced on Sunday night. St. Andrews appears to be in the drivers seat for the #1 seed with a record of 14-0. The NEPSAC tournament begins next Wednesday!
Our bench play has been improving. Bennett Grigull had eight quick points Monday at WM and Nathan Hall's contagious energy on the defensive end was a huge boost Wednesday. Periodically throughout the season different people have stepped up...Max Silveira scoring 14 points against Proctor, Moses Toriola scoring 8 points and grabbing 5 rebounds against Putnam Science...are examples of stellar bench play. Depth will play a factor in the tournament with potentially three games in five days.
We need to be connected on the defensive end, take care of the ball, limit fouls, and gang rebound. The game slows down and becomes simplified this time of year. This group has been on task throughout the season and I expect that trend to continue. On to Thompson, CT Friday to face a very sound Marianapolis squad.
MONDAY / FEBRUARY 10 / 2014
Great weekend with our solid team victory over MacDuffie and several alumni playing well for their respective college teams. Grant White continues to be a major force at Bowdoin and Rick Naylor seems to spark Trinity each time out. Devin Gilligan has had a fine season at Augustana and very pleased to see Devon Thomas play 21 minutes for Missouri State and contribute 11 points. Waylan Siverand has been starting for North Carolina A&T and Ryan Daye has been lighting up the scoreboard for Wingate. Keith Callies has lead Union throughout his senior year...really a pleasure to follow our former Wildcats! Brian Fabrizius stopped in last weekend while his Princeton squad was in the area. Brian is injured but he "loves" Princeton.
Looking forward to a big week as we enter mid-February. Tilton Tuesday and Proctor Wednesday at home before heading to Brimmer on Saturday. Happy to sit at 10-0 in AA but lots of ball to be played. Tilton has a Division I back-court and great depth. They have won nine straight and we expect a great test. We need to improve defensively as we head into the stretch run and also solidify our bench rotation. Max Silveira and Moses Toriola have both been on an uptick. Moses had eight points in a recent loss to Putnam Science---a great sign!
Come out and support the 'Cats...playoffs are just around the corner!
THURSDAY / JANUARY 30 / 2014
Very tough, gritty road win last night at Holderness 76-62. They needed a win to stay in the AA playoff picture and we were expecting a strong effort. Our fast start---getting up 20-8---helped but Holderness narrowed the lead to three at the half. The game was tied with 8:00 remaining but we hit some shots and closed well at the line. Wildcats now stand at 13-4 overall and 8-0 in NEPSAC AA.
Good bounce back performance after being defeated by a very impressive Putnam Science squad Tuesday night. They are athletic, deep, skilled, and well-coached. We understand the need to eliminate stretches of play where we appear to "soften". This can be lack of focus in defensive transition, a missed box out, a careless turnover or two...blended mental and physical toughness will be our key in February. Very important to keep stressing ball movement, defensive transition, being physical on the glass, and "blended toughness."
Malik Abu has sat out the past two games to rest an inflamed knee. He leads the team in scoring (23.1) and rebounding (9.6). Duby Maduegbunam is next (12.5 pts and 6.5 rebs), Crew Ainge is netting 11 points a game and contributing 4.6 assists. Malcolm Brent adds 10 points and 4 rebounds per game and Oliver Tot adds 9 points and 9 assists. Bennett Grigull, Nathan Hall, and Charlie Williams average between 11 and 13 minutes per game to add depth.
Four consecutive home games dot the schedule for the 'Cats beginning Saturday with Brimmer and May. Tilton comes to Meriden next Wednesday followed by MacDuffie and Proctor. Crunch time is fast approaching!
THURSDAY / JANUARY 16 / 2014
Well we seem to be scoring the ball...84 against Cushing and 82 against Vermont. Really haven't gotten the hang of stopping it though. Happy to defeat two quality opponents but we have tons of improvement still needed to be gained prior to the stretch run. Great crowd last night helped tremendously---yes, we have a home court advantage. Small gym + loud students = success!
Malik Abu, despite feeling under the weather, pounded the inside for 28 points and 14 rebounds Wednesday. Malcolm Brent added 19, Oliver Tot 13, and Crew Ainge and Duby Maduegbunam chipped in 11 each. We have weapons at all five spots, but we need to continue to share the ball and defend as one. Lot's of teaching moments ahead...I feel very good about the contributions from Nathan Hall, Bennett Grigull, and Charlie Williams off the bench and look forward to expanding their roles as we have several weeks ahead where we play three games. Need to lengthen our bench as well which is always a huge challenge.
Abu leads the charge with 22.1 ppg, Duby adds 12.7, Ainge 11.0, Brent 10.0, and Oliver Tot 8.0. Malik is averaging 12 boards a game and Duby 7, while Tot leads in assists with 8 per game.
We travel to Simsbury, CT Friday for a 5:30 tip and head to the Hoophall Classic to face NMH Sunday (11:00 am). AA road test Friday as we seek to go 6-0 in the league---never easy on the road and we struggled mightily against Master's back on 12/4---needing consecutive three balls by Grigull to pull it out. Gotta get better!
THURSDAY / JANUARY 9 / 2014
First blog post of 2014...Happy New Year! Excited to be back in action as KUA traveled to Grandby, MA last evening and defeated MacDuffie 76-57. Wildcats jumped out to a 26-6 lead only to see MacDuffie battle back to within eight at the half. Nice spark from Crew Ainge and Nathan Hall defensively and good to see Oliver Tot healthy. All five starters reach double figures as we shared the ball better than we have been. Duby Maduegbunam and Malcolm Brent had outstanding floor games.
Now the focus turns to Saturday when we travel to Cushing to face the defending Class AA champions. Cushing is paced by a trio of high-major perimeter players and they can flat score the ball. We will have to stop them from running and control the glass. These games always seem to come down to the end and this one promises to be no different. Syracuse bound point guard Kaleb Joseph will be a tough test for Oliver while Jalen Adams is as creative a scorer as there is in NE. I like my guards too so it is certainly a game to look forward to.
Because we see Malik Abu do amazing things every practice and game sometimes it seems we might take his talent for granted. After all, he is essentially a double-double waiting to happen. Lost in the early shuffle has been his consistency and leadership. Here's a highly decorated and publicized guy who is incredibly humble and thoughtful. He doesn't fluster...he has such a great demeanor and is a genuine teammate.
We are really blessed to have a group of young men who truly value and respect each other. No ego's and no agenda's...a pleasure to coach!
Rivalry week as we face Cushing followed by Vermont---great time of the year.
THURSDAY / DECEMBER 19 / 2013
Solid win last night 72-49 over Hyde. Malik Abu scored 23 points while battling the flu. Crew Ainge slid to the two guard with the return of Oliver Tot and played perhaps his best game finishing with 15 points. Duby Maduegbunam chipped in 14 points. We had a bit of a slow start against hyde's 1-3-1 zone. We went to a "Bomb Squad" featuring Charlie Williams, Bennett Grigull, Max Silveira, Nate Hall, and Gus King. They promptly went on a 8-0 run to stretch out the lead. KUA lead at the half 39-20.
KUA will play Salisbury today at 7:00 in semi-final action. Salisbury has a strong starting five and they are well-coached and disciplined. We just can't seem to get everyone feeling well at the same time...Malik is better but Nate has caught the bug. Crew was ill all last week. Oliver is finally back after missing five games. Once we get into January ball and we get everyone healthy and clicking I think we have a chance to be pretty good. This is a very close-knit group and often team chemistry can become the impetus for stacking successes. There will always be adversity and teams that stick together and care for one another have built in advantages to overcome them. Go 'Cats!
THURSDAY / DECEMBER 12 / 2013
What a struggle we had to score last night at Exeter. Coach Tilton had his guys in a match-up zone and we couldn't find a rhythm or our shooting stroke. We were fortunate to trail only 19-18 at half after shooting an ice cold 5-30 from the floor in the opening stanza. With made field goals on our first five second half attempts we were able to open a 33-22 lead. Nathan Hall was again a spark plug defensively and we didn't put PEA on the line---they only shot five free throws for the game. We only had three team fouls with 1:00 to play so we were able to give some fouls to thwart any quick comeback attempts.
We opened our season with five games in eight days---battling some injuries and some illness, which all teams do. We all know we need to play better. There has been little consistency on either end. We will hold a short practice today and a preparation practice tomorrow to ready for Milton. Tip-off is set for 3:15 Saturday at Babson College. We hope to have Oliver Tot back after missing all but two minutes of the season thus far. Crew Ainge hopes to shake a lingering flu bug. All in all, pleased to be 4-1 and excited for the challenge to play a quality opponent Saturday!
MONDAY / DECEMBER 9 / 2013
Back on the road today as we head to Proctor Academy for a Class AA game. Tip time is 4:30. Tough weekend as the 'Cats fell to a strong New Hampton School Friday night and struggled for a half against Deerfield Saturday afternoon. Malik Abu put together an outstanding weekend and was particularly dominate Saturday as he went for 31 points and 16 rebounds. Nathan Hall was 5-5 from the floor and had 7 steals to go with his 12 points. Bennett Grigull continued his fine early season play with 10 points.
Friday we saw tremendous length and depth from NHS. They rotate several guys with size and skill and they can stretch the floor from several positions. We fought and had possession trailing by five with 2:00 left but came up empty against their zone. They hit a three and the game was decided. I liked our competitive spirit and felt we did some good things throughout. Malcolm Brent and Crew Ainge put together solid floor games in the back court. One area we need to shore up is our free throw shooting as we connected on just 6-17 from the line Friday.
Proctor has added some nice young players and they are always scrappy under Gregor and Scott. Exeter will be a great test, they are in the midst of winning 26 of their last 27 games---and I am sure they will remember their defeat in the Den last January. Tip off Wednesday is 3:00---not 5:00 as was previously posted. That should be a quality NE Prep School tilt! We travel to Babson College Saturday to take on another top Class A team---Milton Academy.
Big goals for the week: show more patience and discipline on offense, better transition defense, continue to develop our bench play, be tough-minded, poised, and confident. Go 'Cats!
TUESDAY / DECEMBER 3 / 2013
Opening week! Will practice tonight in preparation of our season opening game against The Master's School tomorrow, Wednesday, Alumni Gym, tip time at 4:30. Following Thursdays practice we will play a weekend double-header, at New Hampton Friday and home versus Deerfield Saturday. Great to have the guys back following a week long exam/holiday break. The Prep School calendar does present challenges as we will tip our season having held just 10 practices. With nine games over the next 17 days, we will break again for the Holiday's having had just 16 total practices---along with the nine games.
Happy to announce Malik Abu, Malcolm Brent, and Adrian Callies will serve as tri-captains. They bring a combined eight years to our program and have embraced leadership roles. Our team does have experience in NEPSAC and in our system. We will likely open with four guys who started at times a year ago---Abu inside and Duby Maduegbunam, Brent, Crew Ainge, and newcomer Oliver Tot on the perimeter. This group certainly has individual talent but as always we will need to play as one to be successful. 6-4 senior Bennett Grigull, 6-8 junior Charlie Williams, and 6-10 junior Moses Toriola will play off the bench. We've seen some nice stretches of play from Callies, Gus King, Nathan Hall, and Max Silveira. So we have good depth and roles will shake down considerably over the next 17 days.
We are going to play 18 minutes halves in our AA games...and 20 minute halves in our AAA games. We have put together a challenging schedule that will prepare us well for the end game---the New England tournament. We need to stack some good practices, good possessions, good games, and good weeks...but we have all the pieces of the puzzle---we just need to come together and be as tough and sound as we can be.
FRIDAY / NOVEMBER 15 / 2013
I'm back by popular demand :) First practice last night went well, good comprehension...helps we have so many veterans. Charlie Williams and Adrian Callies enter their fourth year in the program, Duby Maduegbunam, Malik Abu, Gus King are in their third year, Crew Ainge, Malcolm Brent, Bennett Grigull, Cooper Williams, and Moses Toriola are in their second year. So we have players that know how we play, practice, and they embrace our expectations. In short, they all understand and are respectful of our culture. It makes things easier certainly---continuity is a great thing.
Congratulations to Malik and Malcolm on signing National Letters of Intent with North Carolina State and UMBC. Duby is on anofficial visit this weekend to Bryant, one of the top up and coming programs in the Northeast. Senior guard Oliver Tot, a newcomer from Bratislava, Slovakia, chose not to sign early and will keep his recruitment open. We have a handful of DIII kids who are clicking "send" today on Early Decision and Early Action applications---stay tuned and good luck!
Heading into trimester final exams next week. Will practice Mon-Thursday one time and hold two sessions next Friday. Excited to play the Club team from Harvard on 11/23, in Cambridge with tip time set for 1:00. This will be a good test and much needed as we immediately head to Fall Break after the game. Our kids had a great fall with weights, scrimmages, speed work, and yoga. We have the pieces to have an outstanding season. I will once again quote Brad Stevens..."the game rewards toughness." My new favorite quote!!
WEDNESDAY / SEPTEMBER 18 / 2013
Just a quick programming note: open gym tomorrow (Thursday, 9/19) will be at 3:00 due to convocation.
The great difference maker in athletic development is intrinsic motivation, correct? Or in other words...how hard you work when nobody is watching. My team for instance lifts weights four times a week. Per NEPSAC philosophy I am not involved nor do we employ a strength coach. If I were to peek in I would no doubt see some guys working full bore, some guys going through the motions, and others not really even engaged. This is not just my guys, this is universal. It's survival of the fittest and been around forever. How about the guy that would like to be a good free throw shooter? He shoots 500 free throws a year...1.5 a day! Yet this guy is content to shoot 60% for the season and will cost you a game sooner or later because he can't make a bonus under pressure. I would rather have the guy on the line that shoots 500 per week, wouldn't you?
Another thing I've wondered about is why a guy shoots a shot in pick up ball, practice, or even games which has a 20% chance of going in? Why? Why not be a ball mover? Why not space the floor, pass and cut properly, select shots when open, in range and on balance? Guess what? Your percentage will go from 35% to 45% instantly. Plus, if you are sound and defend, you will always have a role on your team. A lot of guys have it backwards...they think "I have to impress by making shots". So they shoot nearly every time they get it. And their percentage hovers under 25%. And they dig a hole for themselves---perhaps they even "earn" the most unwelcome moniker in basketball, the guy, people say, who "doesn't know how to play."
Wouldn't you rather be the guy who is a "winning player"? The guy who makes the extra pass...the guy who cuts hard, talks, defends, etc. The guy who makes everyone better?
Neither of these concepts---hard work and smart play---are rocket science. As I have talked about before, after spending 30 years in the gym, I am still continually amazed that some players have an innate ability to make a simple game difficult.
We have now, and have had, a number of guys who play the right way. Hoop season is right around the corner...best of luck to all the former, current, and future Wildcats!
FRIDAY / SEPTEMBER 6 / 2013
Six months!! Time for a new blog entry..."Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends"...great song from the past and excellent lead into the new year, if I say so myself :)
Our 201st year of educating dedicated students and athletes and proud to have a small role.
Really exciting summer for our guys as Malcolm Brent picked up some offers running with Metro Boston, Duby Maduegbunam made a strong impression, Bennett Grigull caught the eye of recruiters, Malik Abu narrowed his list and played well in the NBA Top 100 Camp, Crew Ainge caught the eye of several recruiters, Moses learned to swim and got an A in Algebra, etc, etc. We are really proud of all our guys and look forward to welcoming the new players and seeing the above-mentioned as well as Gus, Adrian, Charlie and Cooper.
Incredibly busy summer for yours truly...beginning with a jaunt to Adelaide, Australia to help run Camps with friends Mark Swasey and Ricky Simpson. Followed that up with Camps in Iceland, Sweden, and England with a brief holiday in Copenhagen. Teaching the game to eager young kids is always energizing. A little recruiting never hurts either.
Hearing great things about our alums, to include Jesse Chuku at Lehigh and Devon Thomas at Missouri State. I also know Wingate is expecting big things from Ryan Daye. I will update others as I get word...but one of the things that is most rewarding is the knowledge that our guys are ready to succeed, both in the classroom and on the court, when they hit campus.
NOTE TO COLLEGE RECRUITERS: Open Gym begins Thursday, September 12 at 4:30. Coaches are invited to view open gyms on Tuesdays and Thursday this Fall, just call ahead please.
Going camping with the post grads and school starts Wednesday!
MONDAY/MARCH 4 / 2013
Congratulations go out to Cushing for their thrilling championship victory over St Andrews yesterday. Cushing ends their season with a 24-5 record and a AA title. We were disappointed in our semi-final effort Friday. We contolled the game in the first half but a couple mistakes late meant we were only able to carve out a 29-28 lead entering the second half. Aware that Cushing had scored 96 points in their quarterfinal game we were intent to slow the pace and only run in spurts. I felt we could have held a 6-12 point lead if only we had been a bit sharper. The second half proved costly as we were outplayed from the get go. CA slowly built their lead to as much as 11, we were able to rally back and cut the lead to five midway through the half, and we trailed by six and had possession with 2:00 remaining but turned the ball over. Malik Abu lead with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Devon and Devin, struggling with illness, gave great effort but were fighting uphill all night. Cushing made plays Friday and Sunday and thats why they are NEPSAC AA champions.
Interesting to note that we were able to defeat Cushing (AA Champs), 25-1 Exeter (A Champs), and Suffield (B Champs) during the regular season. We finished 19-8 overall and 11-4 in AA play, good for a three seed. Last season we were 21-6 overall and a 7 seed. Lot's of credit to our kids for piecing together a 40-14 overall mark the past two seasons playing a competitive schedule featuring the top teams in New England.
Malik Abu, who recently added an offer from Florida to his expanding list, ended as our leading scorer (16 ppg) and rebounder (8.1 rpg). He connected on 59% of his field goal attempts. Devon Thomas scored 14.1 ppg, added 3.2 rebounds and 5 assists. He connected on 52% from the floor and 40% (39-97) from the arc. Devin Gilligan added 11 points and six rebounds a game. Duby Maduegbunam scored 8.5 points a game and lead the team in made three points baskets with 48 (36%). We were able to add 14.5 points a game from the trio of two-guards...Danny Eiber, Malcolm Brent, and Crew Ainge. We averaged 66 points per game and allowed 56. We shot a respectable 49% from the floor but a mediocre 35% on three point attempts.
We appreciate our great fan support and look forward to reloading and making another run in 2013-14. Though a disappointing ending to our season we were blessed to have a group of young men who displayed great character and team spirit from the first day to the last. They were outstanding representatives for our school and program. Can't say enough about the leadership from our three captains, Devon Thomas, Devin Gilligan, and Danny Eiber. Post-graduate Aboudi Al-Qattan didn't did a great deal of game time but his work habits and attitude was very instrumental to our success. Much like Jesse Chuku and Rick Naylor a year ago, these guys really left a blue print for success for our returning players.
I leave later today for Iceland where I will conduct a clinic, meet a prospective student, observe practices and games for FSu Academy, and, hopefully get in some fly fishing and mineral hot spring.
I'll be sure to sneak in a couple blog updates!
THURSDAY / FEBRUARY 28 / 2013
Boy, February has flown by! Great to play in March. Last nights 59-57 victory over Vermont was maybe even closer than the final score would indicate. In a game of runs KUA had the last. Devon Thomas and Malik Abu hit three point shots late to build the Wildcat lead to six. Vermont would chip away in the last 90 seconds aided my two missed front ends by KUA. Only when a Dimitri Floras three point attempt with 1 second left fell short could KUA breathe easy. Abu and Thomas combined for 40 points and Devin Gilligan added nine rebounds. KUA improves to 19-7 and heads to Groton, MA tomorrow to face #2 seed Cushing. Cushing is lead by high-scoring guards Kaleb Joseph and Jalen Adams. They put 96 points on Brimmer in their quarterfinal win and the key, obviously, will be our ability to control their fast paced attack.
We really like our team and believe that last week hiccups against Wilbraham and Vermont might have been a good slap in the face. We have played well the past two games in defeating outstanding teams in Marianapolis and VA. If our solid play continues, and we can knock down some shots and avoid foul trouble, we do like our chances.
Stats: Malik Abu, 16 ppg, 8.2 reb, 60% fg / Devon Thomas, 14.3 ppg, 3.5 reb, 5.2 asst, 51% fg / Devin Gilligan, 11 ppg, 6 reb, 58% fg / Duby Maduegbunam, 8.8 ppg, 5.6 reb / Crew Ainge, 6.1 ppg, 5:1 asst-to ratio / Danny Eiber, 5 ppg, 3 turnovers in 358 minutes
Very pleased with our depth and work ethic. Aboudi Al-Qattan has been exceptional in practice and helped us when called upon in games. Charlie Williams and Malcolm Brent have given solid efforts. Because of our depth, defense, and unselfish style, we are very confident heading to Massachusetts.
SATURDAY / FEBRUARY 23 / 2013
Terrific balance keyed last nights 86-71 victory over highly regarded Marianapolis in a very entertaining game viewed by an enthusiastic capacity crowd. Malik Abu and Devin Gilligan each scored 22 points while adding 12 and 8 rebounds respectively. Devin Thomas chipped in 15 points and Duby Maduegbunam scored 14. Crew Ainge, Danny Eiber, Malcolm Brent and Aboudi Al-Qattan also contributed quality minutes. Senior Night saw a highly efficient offensive performance as the teams combined for 157 points in a 32 minute game. Mike Mallory was unstoppable as the MP guard drove and shot his way to a game high 29 points. Marianapolis falls to 21-6 overall with two losses to the Wildcats. KUA ends the regular season 18-7 overall and 11-4 in Class AA. MPS is 16-5 in AA games. Both teams expect to earn top 4 seeds in next weeks tournament. Worcester Academy will be seeded number 1, Cushing likely grabs the two slot. Pairings should trickle out late Sunday. The Class AA field is loaded and balanced which should make for some close, interesting games.
We played loose and confident last night, unlike the previous two games earlier in the week. Devon Thomas, playing in front of family and friends from the Silver Springs, MD area, contolled the tempo throughout. It was great to see him play so well with Albree and Richard looking on! Our fans, affectionately dubbed the "KimballKrazies" were spectacular. There cannot be a senior class in NE with more school spirit. What Maura, Feekah, Doyle, Alex, etc, do for our school is special and very much appreciated.
On to the playoffs and we like our chances. Why not us?
THURSDAY / FEBRUARY 21 / 2013
The week has not gone according to plan! We have dropped consecutive home games to quality opponents Wilbraham and Vermont. We now will attempt to regroup for our final regular season game against Marianapolis (21-5). Our current record of 17-7, 10-4 in Class AA indicates we will receive either a #3 or #4 seed in next weeks NEPSAC AA tournament.
Despite 27 points and eight rebounds from Malik Abu last night we couldn't match the balance of the VA Wildcats. They received stellar guard play from Dimitri Floras and Day McNeal, outstanding floor play and shot making from their athletic wings and timely shots from George Funtonov. Much like Monday night against Wilbraham, we battled back midway in the second half. Down one with 8:00 remaining but VA goes on a 8-0 run. Every time they needed to make a big shot they did. I truly feel like that was as good a team as we have seen in our gym.
The biggest question now is the mental makeup of our squad. It is not the best of times to suffer back-to-back losses. Senior Day Friday will be a great test. We will need to respond with energy and confidence. Post graduates Aboudi Al Qattan and Dylan Moore, two year lettermen Devin Gilligan and Danny Eiber, and three year letterman Devon Thomas will make their final regular season appearance at the 'Cat-Dome.
We have had great fan support this year and tomorrow promises to be an exciting affair. Marianapolis is very talented and they run a very efficient offense combined with full court pressure defense. The winner likely grabs the number three seed---so lot's at stake. Go 'Cats!
SUNDAY / FEBRUARY 17 / 2013
The stretch run is here, Wildcats head into last week of the regular season! We start the week with an exciting home match versus Wilbraham and Monson. They feature Luis Montero at point guard, currently ranked #12 nationally in his class. Also, 6-10 Goodluck O. is ranked #20 nationally in '14. W&M provides a stern test against premier talent. Tip-off is set for 6:00 and it's Faculty and Staff Appreciation night. Wednesday afternoon rival Vermont comes to the 'Cat-Dome in the annual "Civil War". Friday at 6:00 KUA hosts Marianapolis in the final regular season game and it will be Senior Night.
We played a strong game at Brimmer yesterday. Opening game jitters saw us launching shots too quickly but we settled in sparked by seniors Devon Thomas and Danny Eiber. KUA closed the first half with an 8-0 run and opened the second half by scoring the first six points. Three point baskets by Eiber, Duby, Devin G were the back breakers for BM. Malik Abu would dominate the latter stages of the game with 8 consecutive points. Malik lead our scoring with 20 points and continued his late charge, he has now scored 118 points in the past five games, nearly 24 points per game.
Eiber not only canned four trifectas but he held Fordham-bound Jake Fay scoreless in their head-to-head match-up.
We still have work to do to secure the number 2 seed in the NEPSAC playoffs. Worcester Academy has locked up number one with an overall 13-0 record in Class AA. We are 10-2 in AA with wins over top seeds Cushing, Marianapolis, and Tilton. That looks like your top five in no particular order. Other teams fighting for playoff berths include St Andrews, Brimmer, Vermont, and Wilbraham. Too close to call right now but one team from the above mentioned will be left out. Lots of head-to head matchups this week so it will be interesting.
We have a strong February record in my time here as we stay together, stress continuous improvement, we share the ball, and we attempt---not always successfully---to play defense. We believe that the whole must be greater than the sum of its parts. I like our chances this week and next but we all certainly respect the challenges we will face. The teams this week have good talent and are each well coached.
SUNDAY / FEBRUARY 10 / 201Nemo sure wreaked havoc on the NEPSAC schedule for this weekend including the cancellation of our team trip to Maine. We lost two games but fortunately they were not Class AA games. I feel bad for the teams in our league that lost AA games---because certain teams lost opportunities to strengthen their resume for the upcoming tournament. There are sixteen teams in AA with the top eight making the quarterfinal playoffs. There seems to be 10 teams still in the hunt for admission so teams on the bubble really wanted games to go on this weekend. We have a lot of work to do to secure a top four seed but we are up for the tesGreat win Wednesday at Tilton as we rallied from 15 down in the second half to win 72-71. Devin Gilligan and Danny Eiber hit big trey's down the stretch. Gilligans two free throws gave us our first lead, and after a driving basket by Tilton gave them the lead, we responded with two free throws by Malik Abu with four seconds remaining. Devon Thomas set Malik up with a nifty drive and dish.
We now own wins over Cushing, Marianapolis, and Tilton. Each of these teams are in the mix for a home seed. Another resume builder win was over Exeter, they are now 18-1. We have two more AA battles this week, first we host Proctor on Wednesday before travelling to Brimmer and May next Saturday for a 2:00 tip. Brimmer is certainly in the mix for a tourney berth so that should be a slugfest.
Good players and teams play well in February (great players and teams play well in March). Happy to see Malik stepping up his game. He has scored 78 points the past three games (26 ppg) and grabbed 36 rebounds (12 rpg). He is 27-41 from the floor. Not to mention his prssure-packed free throws Wednesday---down one with four seconds left, on the road against a quality opponent. He is also blocking a ton of shots. With Devin Gilligan back from his wrist injury we now have a nice complimentary post game. We need to keep winning! 'Cats go to 15-5 overall and 8-2 in NEPSAC Class AA!!
MONDAY / FEBRUARY 4 / 2013
Time for a blog update! Devin Gilligan nearing a miraculous return. We skipped the deer antler powder and went right for the moose juice...that's how we roll in New Hampshire...At any rate he should be back soon and that will undoubtedly help our defense. We played a great half of defense Saturday holding talented Brimmer to just 21 points in the opening stanza. However they were able to drive at will the second half and put 47 points on the board. We did just enough to earn a hard-fought 81-68 victory. The official book had Malik Abu with 33 points---the courtside stats had him for 31, at either rate it's 33 and a new career high. We got solid efforts from Devon Thomas, Duby Maduegbunam, and Danny Eiber. Malik and Devon have been a good one-two punch averaging 14.2 and 14.3 points per game. Duby had 11 rebounds to support his double-double---when he boards he certainly adds another dimension to his game.
Big Class AA bout at Tilton Wednesday. They feature Wayne Seldon, an explosive wing heading to Kansas. They are smaller than they've been but very athletic. Tilton fell to Holderness Saturday and Northfield Sunday so they will be hungry to get back in the win column. 20 days until the Class AA pairings are announced and several teams are fighting for 8 spots. Gilligan's injury set us back a bit but we are still in the hunt for a top four seed and a potential home game in the quarterfinals. We've defeated Cushing and Marianapolis, both certain qualifiers. We also have a big win against Class A Exeter---who is now 17-1.
Our biggest concern going forward will be consistency of effort. We have been a "one half team" too many times this season. Usually we've been tough in the first half and softened---which is not the formula for long term success. I like this group and am excited about our chances to play good ball in February. If not now, when?
KUA is 14-5 overall and 7-2 in NEPSAC Class AA.
SUNDAY/ JANUARY 27 / 2013
Enjoying the bye weekend after another busy week. Despite falling behind 7-0 against Holderness last Wednesday we did enough to earn a 74-65 victory. They are very big and shot the ball well, especially Roland Nyama (heading to Stony Brook). A couple of our guys were feeling the effects of the flu bug going around so it was good to get the win and have a day to get ready to face Brewster. That game did not go so well---as we did a Miami-Duke impersonation, a good team going on the road and getting clobbered. We lead midway through the first half, trailed 32-26 at half, and 34-29 with 19:00 remaining. From then on we were outscored 46-19. They have a lot of talent and we will put that one in the rear view mirror.
We are now 13-4 overall and 6-1 in NEPSAC AA. There seems to be some confusion about our record---the Vanier game was an exhibition FOR THEM. Each of the US teams they have played this year count the games as a regularly scheduled game. So be it.
This will be a challenging week as we lose our vocal leader and best defender Devin Gilligan. He is out indefinitely with a wrist issue. February is not a good month to redefine a rotation but that will be the challenge. Not having Devin against Brewster was telling as we didn't have a stopper, nor did we have an offensive rebounder, nor did we talk defensively. It was like we were playing in church.
We are not berift in talent. Devon Thomas and Malik Abu give us a very strong one-two punch. It remains to be seen whe else will step up. Difficult tests this week as we travel to Holderness Wednesday and return to the Cat-Dome on Saturday against talented Brimmer. Stay tuned!
MONDAY/ JANUARY 21/ 2013
Welcome back to the Blog! Busy week for the Wildcats. Tough two point loss at Vermont Wednesday followed by a weekend double-header. Really felt we let one get away in Saxons River. Had possession and the ball with under a minute. Got to close the deal but, to their credit, they hit two deep three's in the final 45 seconds. Really hard fought game as is the case in the Battle of the Wildcats.
We were pleased with our bounce back effort against Master's Friday. Good defense (44 points) again. Danny Eiber had a 7 point run mid-way through the first half to break it open. 15 guys played and 11 scored. Bennett Grigull had a confident nine minute run.
Pleased to be invited to play in the BABC Prep Classic at the Kroc Center in Boston Sunday against a strong Marianapolis. They were coming off big wins against Wilbraham and Cushing so we knew we were facing a quality opponent. Neither team was particularly sharp offensively but we did a nice job on defense and were fortunate to earn a 56-36 victory. Malik Abu blocked or changed about a dozen shots inside and our perimeter defense was outstanding. Good balance with Malik (13), Devin Gilligan (10) and Malcolm Brent (9), and Devon Thomas (8) points. Devon had a very nice floor game and was a pest defensively.
Devon leads our team in scoring (14 ppg) and assists (5.5). Malik chips in 12 ppg and 8.5 rebounds. Devin Gilligan adds 10 ppg and 6 rebounds. So we have nice balance. We are now 12-3 overall and 5-1 in NEPSAC AA. We have 12 games remaining in the regular season with six home and six away. Included among the remaining games are nine AA contests and at AAA power Brewster Friday.
After a slow start due to injuries Holderness has now won three consecutive games. We are excited to host them Wednesday!
SUNDAY / JANUARY 13/ 2013
The Morning After...
Some thoughts on yesterday's game as I recover from the GB Packer beat down last night. Got to thinking about the pressure on Crew Ainge as he stepped to the line with 21 seconds remaining and KUA trailing 58-57. We had lead the entire game, including a 48-30 lead mid-way through the second half. KUA still lead by nine with 2:32 remaining. Cushing's relentless press and our obliging play allowed them to close with 10 straight points. We missed shots, turned it over repeatedly, and missed four straight free throws. Cushing took the lead on a Jalen Adams drive but fouled Ainge while continuing to press. In front of a packed crowd, and with the weight of the collapse on his shoulders, Crew calmly sank two free throws. CU took a timeout with 14 seconds remaining and Joseph worked to the lane. Malik Abu challenged the shot, and Devin Gilligan and Danny Eiber tracked down the loose ball. Eiber hit two throws with .2 seconds left to close the scoring.
We played great defense in the first half, holding CA to just 21 points...they came in averaging 81 points a game. Malcolm Brent, who came up big in locking down all-NE guard Chris Braley last Saturday, would again answer the bell in holding all-everything Adams to just 6 first half points and 12 overall. Devon Thomas and Danny Eiber held Kaleb Josheph to just six points. We were able to win with Devon playing 19 minutes due to foul trouble. He fouled out with a full nine minutes remaining and we were holding on thereafter.
Malik Abu showed off his improving skill set on the way to a game high 23 points. Malik stepped out for a couple three point baskets, showed a turnaround jumper, and had a dunk. He also defended hard and ran the floor.
Our depth has been a blessing and a curse. It is very difficult to keep 15 players happy but we have tried to play 10 players most games. Our depth was a blessing Saturday as we closed the game with three starters and two backups on the floor down the stretch. Without Eiber and Ainge we don't win.
Devin Gilligan (13 points, 7 rebounds, tough defense) had an up and down performance. As our inbounder, he was, shall I say, "a bit inconsistent down the stretch." However, he is our glue guy and we wouldn't trade him for anyone. Kids a winner...
Love this team, we are 10-2 after opening 2013 with wins over Vanier, Exeter, and Cushing. We've defended big time guards past couple Saturday's---well, we get two more in McNeal and Floras Wednesday. Our first half defense (14 points vs Exeter and 21 vs CU) has been very good. Our second half defense (37 points vs Exeter and 37 again vs CU) has been sub-par. If we can outlast people defensively, for the full 32 minutes, we have a shot to be a special team. Right now, thats the big question.
SATURDAY / JANUARY 5 / 2013
'CATS END EXETER WINNING STREAK
Kimball Unions fortunes were aplenty today as the 'Cats clawed their way to a hard-fought 61-49 victory or previously undefeated Phillips Exeter. KUA goes to 9-2 while Exeter drops to 7-1. Devon Thomas paced the winners with 17 points, Malcolm Brent added 14, Devin Gilligan chipped in 10, Duby Madeugbunam with 8 and Malik Abu with seven. Abu protected the rim with five blocks. KUA's stifling defense held PEA to just five field goals and 14 total points in the first half. Exeter made a run in the first minutes of the second stanza but never got closer than five. Gilligan hit six straight free throws and Thomas all three following a whistle on an attempted three point shot. Overall, KUA made 19-24 from the line.
This was a very good win for us and we all appreciate the fan support. Another good crowd saw two teams really go at it. I think Exeter has a great opportunity to win Class A this season. They have all the pieces---great coaching, size, shooters, smart guard play.
Our first half defense was as well as we can play. Unfortunately, we didn't sustain --or contain---them the entire way. They have too many weapons, and as the game wore on they found some plays that were working. Robinson (17 points) is outstanding, and Braley (11) points is as good a shooter as their is in NE---our guys really were gutty today.
Big week of practice, bye Wed, so we can set our sights on another undefeated opponent: Cushing Academy next Saturday!
First full day of Winter Break and pleased to enter break with an overall 7-2 record and a Southall Tournament Title under our belt. You are what your record says you are...so though we would have liked to have run the table thus far it was not to be. The OT loss to New Hampton was disappointing and the DID NOT SHOW game against Tabor was equally disappointing. However, we hit the break in good shape. Pleased with our rebounding lately. Malik Abu snared 15 boards against Salisbury, Devin Gilligan added 8, Malcolm Brent seven, and Duby had six. 44 total boards in the game, and it came against a premier rebounding team.
We have not shot the ball well yet but that should come. Frankly, we haven't played as well as we were hoping in any facet, just inconsistent overall. Devin Gilligan has been tremendous defensively, always answering the bell. Duby Maduegbunam has really helped on the boards, Crew Ainge has really sparked us offensively, Devon Thomas had one great game and a bunch of decent games but he can, and will, play better. I need to get the bench more established, really liked some of the things we saw from Aboudi, Charlie, and Moses and they need more minutes. We're trying to play 10 kids a game and that is difficult in a 32 minute game, but we are committed to it and we'll see where it takes us.
We have a great schedule in 2013---Exeter is up first and they are 7-0. Cushing is next and they are one of the top teams in NE. We will need to be tough-minded, fundamentally sound, unselfish, and energized. Anything we get this year must be earned, Class AA is as strong as can be. Should be FUN.
Wishing Wildcat Nation a Happy Holiday Season.
MONDAY / DECEMBER 10 / 2012
Off day to regroup and refresh. We beat a very good Milton squad Saturday 67-49. Devon Thomas and Crew Ainge sparked a second half rally. Came out flat Sunday against Tabor and got slapped 70-61. They lead 17-5 before I even had a chance to sit down. Tabor increased the lead to 24-7 and the closest we got in the second half was eight. Aboudi Al Qattan gave us a lift with seven quick points as we made our last push. I've long believed the whole must be greater than the sum of its parts and we didn't defend or rebound as a whole, only as individuals. Very disappointing to not play hard, smart or tough. We head to Loomis for their annual Holiday Tournament Wednesday. We face Suffield in a 7:00 tip. They have six good players and play well together.
THURSDAY / DECEMBER 6 / 2012
Just finished practice number 14 and have another tomorrow in preparation for this weekends trip to Babson College and the Scholar-Roundball Classic. We play Milton at 2:30 Saturday and follow up with Tabor at 1:15 Saturday. Both opponents are known for their intensity and toughness and we will have to be ready to compete. Both also feature high DI prospects in the post, so we'll get a good test for our interior defense and rebounding.
Played OK against Proctor last night, lead 37-19 at the half and opened the second stanza with a 12-2 run. Charlie Williams had a double and a half with 10 points and five rebounds, Duby Maduegbunam scored in double figures and paced us with 6 rebounds. Devon Thomas had two beautiful alley-oops to Malik and finished with five assists to go with 11 points.
Crew Ainge (wrist) and Moses Toriola (flu) sat out and we are hopeful they'll be back for the weekend. Trying to focus on running, rebounding, and talking on defense. Running the floor hard is a lost art but an important trait, rebounding is effort, and talking is essential. Failure to do these things will doom a team as much as anything else.
Saw where New Hampton beat Brewster by 8 last night---our OT loss to NHS was a good test, and we'll be tested again this weekend. Can't wait! Go 'Cats!!
Week 1 Review
Wow! What an opening week...Absolutely did not recognize my team Wed in the opener at Master's...in the first half. Leading just 17-15 at halftime we opened the second stanza with a 24-4 run. Pretty good defense through out holding them to just 27 points. The New Hampton game Friday was a thriller. We fought back nicely, down seven at the half and down six with 3:00 remaining. The Killer D's, Devin and Devon, hit three's late to tie. Gilligan held Noah Vonleh, number 6 rated player in the country, to 2 second half points. Thomas harassed Travis Jorgenson, High DI point guard, throughout the secondhalf, out scoring him 15-0 over the 16:00 stanza. Malik Abu played hard but didn't get untracked. However his fifth foul was a complete phantom call. He blocked Jorgensen cleanly. Our fast break to tie was wiped away. Jorgensen felt the wrath of our end zone fans and missed both tosses. Thomas then tied it with a 22 foot bomb with 2 seconds left. Forced to play OT without Malik we had a three point shot to win with 3 seconds left...not to be and we had to regroup with an afternoon road game within 21 hours.
Deerfield proved scrappy and we never could pop it open. Got lots of guys on the floor and held a comfortable lead throughout. Danny Eiber hit three deep three's to spark the team.
Pretty banged up...Devon has a thigh issue, Moses an ankle, Danny is nursing a groin, Malcolm an ankle, and, most worrisome, Crew Ainge had to leave the game early with a swollen wrist. Crew adds spirit and quickness...hope all the guys can heal quickly and get us ready for another three game week.
Proctor, Milton, and Tabor this week. We'll see many parents,friends, alums, and recruiters this week. I am proudoff my guys, they understand the importance of representing their Academy.
THURSDAY / NOVEMBER 29 / 2012
A 24-4 run to open the second half proplelled the 'Cats to a 57-29 victory at Master's last night. Malik Abu paced the attack with 16 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. Devon Thomas was 6-6 from the floor enroute to 15 points, he also contributed 6 assists. A very sluggish start saw KUA lead 17-15 at the half largely due to 12 turnovers. The running game in gear the second half proved to be the deal maker for KUA. All 15 players appeared in the game.
We will need to play much better Friday in our home opener against New Hampton. They feature a plethora of DI talent, including Noah Vonleh, a top 10 national performer who is headed to Indiana. Let's get the Cat House rockin' for the 5:00 tip.
WEDNESDAY / NOVEMBER 28 2012
Back to the blog and back to the court. Tip-off the season today at 5:00 against Master's in a NEPSAC Class AA game. We have had just 10 practices but with a solid core of returning guys we have been able to move along relatively quickly in implementing the system and schemes. Will open with Devon Thomas and Malcolm Brent in the back-court and Duby Maduegbunam, Devin Gilligan and Malik Abu up front. I consider Danny Eiber a sixth starter but he has been slowed by a nagging groin injury for the past month or so. Crew Ainge and Aboudi Al Qattan have performed well over the opening practices and Charlie Williams is much improved from a year ago.
We don't change much defensively. We try and not allow fast break baskets, dribble penetration, and second shots. We play the Pack Line and try and make our opponents make contested jump shots. That said, Master's has good size and athleticism and they've always tried to attach with the dribble.
Home opener Friday and on the road Saturday. Nine games over 16 days. Prep school hoops---lot's of games! Glad we have depth and experience.
WEDNESDAY / NOVEMBER 14 / 2012
Happy signing day! Glad to see Devin Gilligan (Augustana) and Devon Thomas (Missouri State) sign their letters of intent today. These two deserve these scholly's---they love basketball and they work hard. They will be great additions to their new programs.
We have had two spirited practices this week and look forward to number 3 later today. Final trimester exams always make things interesting but our guys have come in and WORKED these first two days. We have some kids in their third year and more in their second year, not to mention the seven game summer trip, so we have been able to get right into it. We also have a pretty high collective basketball IQ---which starts with your point guards. We're playing Devon, Aboudi Al Qattan and Crew Ainge there for now and each of them understand the game. Danny Eiber is in that boat as well. I will also say Devin Gilligan sets the tone with things because of his effort. Prep School basketball...we open in two weeks and we have next week off! Thankfully our kids are in good condition, understand the system, and have outstanding chemistry.
We are working on our defense and fast break as we prepare for Master's on Wed, 11/28. Go 'Cats!
FRIDAY / OCTOBE
Another week of preseason down! Kids are getting restless...Great to host Jermaine Henderson (Missouri State), Chester Frazier (Kansas State), Ken Dempsey and Marc Kuntz (UNH) this week. Each complimented our guys on their effort and court demeanor. Playing open gym against the same guys for weeks on end does get old though so it is time for practice to start!!
Crew Ainge and Bennett Grigull continue to tear up the cross country trails :), while Moses Toriola may not be the best jayvee soccer goalie in the East but he is likely the tallest:).
Big believer in the fact that players must fall in love with improving. There is no question that if you do not improve incrementally throughout your playing window that the game will pass you by...it is a very humbling game. (read The Tipping Point and get busy on those 10,000 hours).
FRIDAY / OCTOBER 19 /2012
Ending fifth week of preseason with three to go! Our open gym numbers were down a bit this week as Devon Thomas and Devin Gilligan were away on college visits, Danny Eiber is nursing a groin and Charlie Williams incurred a concussion. But this gave some other guys great court time. Dylan Moore has been shooting very well, Gus King picking up some wins, Moses Toriola had a good run yesterday but suffered a poster at the hands of Malik Abu---best dunk of the fall...
Pleased to get the pairings for the Scholar Roundball Classic at Babson Dec 8-9. We play Milton on Saturday and Tabor Sunday. Two talented, well-coached teams.
So happy for Devon committing to Missouri State---great opportunity for a natural leader. DT was born to play the point and lead a team. Great coaches and players in the Missouri Valley and Devon will fit right in. S/O to Cynthia Howe (advisor) and Sean Thompson (mentor) for always being there to support Devon.
Opening game at Master's 11/28----won't be long now!
FRIDAY / SEPT 28 / 2012
Ending third week of preseason. A little fatigue settling in that must be fought through. Good time to recharge this weekend. Had to scramble for 10 kids to start open gym Thursday...couple kids at fall sports, couple banged up and Devon Thomas on an official visit to LIU-Brooklyn. But saw some good games once everyone got to the gym. Gilligan and Brent were consistent winners. Open gym can be a bit disappointing as kids will revert oftentimes to "who they were"., i.e., they will do those things, and those things only, that they are good at. It is not even a case of being "who they are". As coaches we long for our players to play toward their potential, to get out of their comfort zone and do little things to help their team be successful. Two simple skills not seen enough: ball movement and cutting action. Bad open gym = ball stoppers and standing around. Good open gym=passing and cutting. Not a difficult concept but elusive at times. Six more weeks of preseason and then we can get down to business!
THURSDAY / SEPT 13/ 2012
We are ending our first week of live period workouts today. Very pleased with the effort and the overall format. Eleven kids are in strength and conditioning while three new students participate in another fall sport. We scrimmage during the week and college coaches have been in to observe. So far this week coaches from Iowa State, Quinnipiac, Long Island, Vermont, St Bonaventure and Hartford have visited. Richmond, Northeastern, Texas-Pan American, Cornell, and Utah State will be in next week.
Big adjustment for the kids---they are realizing summer is over as the homework piles up. Prep school is not for everyone...with study hall each night and Saturday classes. But the lessons are far-reaching, think about the rigor, discipline, time-management, etc. It is all good!
Special thanks to Sherwyn Cooper and Adam Finklestein for stopping by. Media matters and these two are among the best. We'll see Adam at the Elite 75 Saturday as Moses Toriola and Crew Ainge participate in the '15 Division.SUNDAY / AUG 26 /2012
KUA hoop tour a great success at 5-2, growth from each player. Good to see the guys heading in for school. '15 Moses Toriola is here and soon Aboudi and Bennett arrive from London. The returning students come in Thursday and school starts Friday---it's go time!
Our schedule is nearly complete, just making some tweaks. New Hampton, Brewster, Cushing, Tilton, etc. Toughest schedule in school history...Will also play in Hoop Mountain /Scholar Roundball and BABC events.
Recruiters---don't sleep on seniors Devin Gilligan and and Danny Eiber. Terrific basketball IQ's, toughness, "blenders", they will help you WIN.
Workouts will likely be Tuesday and Thursday at 5:00 for visitors...check back to confirm.
KUA sprints to a 20-0 lead and never looked back last night in posting 101 points. Devon Thomas set the tone with 7 points, 5 assists, and three steals in the opening quarter. Malik Abu had three dunks in the early going and solid defense throughout. Incoming Wildcats Aboudi Al Qattan and Bennett Grigull joined the squad and played well. Following the game the families hosted the squad for a fantastic cookout.
Following camp today the team heads to The Regal for a great test versus Midnit Madness Club. Noted coach Jackson Gibbons runs arguably the best grassroots organization in the UK and there will be some strong talent. Our guys are excited to play the first game in the new Nike-sponsored facility.
I really have to comment on the play of Malik. I didn't see him play from May to August. He has improved so much it is incredible. Now, I'm not saying he is Dr J or anything, but he has really started to figure it out-----and I'm sure Tyrone Boswell will agree.
As well Duby and Crew are coming back well from injuries...lots to bethankful for.
Tuesday / Aug 14
SATURDAY / JULY 28 / 2012
Cats defeat Uxbridge last night running out to a 49-20 halftime lead and coasting home. Will need to play much better today against the London Pioneers. Had an excellent camp session earlier in the day with 48 total campers. Have to mention the comeback Sat against Falkirk, down twenty with 9 minutes remaining. Crew Ainge and Malcolm Brent hit threes in the final 30 seconds to tie 81-all. Lost in OT but good lessons.
Great day Sunday in Edinburgh, love the architecture, food, and the energy of the city. Duby's sister Judy showed us around. Street festival going on, neat to see. Beautiful train ride on the East Coast train---the sea, the sheep, the views of ancient cities like Berwick Upon Tweed...
Sunny and 70 today in London---let's play ball!
Cats fall 110-101 to Falkirk Fury despite high- powered offense...
Malik Abu paced with 22 points and Duby Maduegbunam added 20 but KUA couldn't contain 6-10 pro Ronnie Gordon and 6-7 Maine Bearcat Ali Fraser in dropping the opening game. 200 fans at the Mariner Center saw KU close to within 103-101 with 40 seconds remaining.
THURSDAY / AUGUST 2 / 2012
KIMBALL UNION BASKETBALL TEAM HEADS TO UK
Eleven Kimball Union student-athletes will travel to the United Kingdom next month to participate in a cultural exchange and basketball competitions. KUA Head Boys’ Basketball Coach Mike Olson will be conducting two clinics abroad and has scheduled seven international basketball games against teams from Scotland and England. The team departs on August 8 and returns to the States on August 17. Participants include:
- Class of 2013: Devon Thomas, Danny Eiber, Devin Gilligan, Ethan Yang, Dylan Moore
- Class of 2014: Duby Maduegbunam, Malik Abu, Gus King, Adrian Callies, Malcolm Brent
- Class of 2015: Crew Ainge
Four Wildcats will assist with hosting the team. They are Jesse Chuku ’12, Jonny Bunyan ’11, Aboudi Al Qattan ’13 and Bennett Grigull ’14. The team will spend the opening weekend in Falkirk, Scotland participating in the Braveheart Classic. They will face three Scottish Club teams, including Bunyan’s Falkirk Fury. A visit to the Edinburgh Castle on Sunday highlights the weekend. Monday, August 13 finds KUA taking on Chuku’s London Pioneer Basketball Club. KUA will play the English Under 18 National Champs on Tuesday, the Westminster Warriors Wednesday and conclude the games with a Thursday tilt versus the Midnight-Madness Club. The game
will be the first played played at the new Nike facility called “The Regal”
. The week also includes participation in the London Pioneer Basketball Camp directed by Olson and Jeff Trumbauer, a former Dartmouth Assistant who is now the Assistant Head Coach at Augustana College.
Interested family and fans can follow the action on Coach Olson’s blog at www.kua.org/wildcatbasketball, and on Twitter at @kuahoops.
MORE SUMMER NOTES-----
The Grassroots summer evaluation period ends this weekend and it has been eventful for a number of our guys. Devon Thomas '13 and Malcolm Brent '14 have spearheaded Metro Boston to nine straight wins entering tournament play today in Orlando. Devon has picked up no less than 8 Division I offers as he continues to do his thing...really gifted player. Brent, a hometown friend of DT, will be enrolling at KUA as a junior next month. Great instincts. Of course, Abdul Malik Abu has torn it up. He's been featured in the New England Recruiting Report, Hoopdreamsmag, Rivals, NBC, etc. He is projecting into a top 50 prospect in '14. His summer coach Ty Boswell has worked wonders with Malik. Expressions has been a big winner this summer. Incoming '15 post Moses Toriola has recently joined the team and is getting his feet wet touring the East Coast. Devin Gilligan has been the best performer for Bishop Elite and they have had success in Springfield and Orlando.
We are looking forward to heading over to Scotland and England next month. Eleven Wildcats are on the journey and we will play seven games against premier UK competition. Duby Maduegbunam will finally make his summer debut following spring surgery and that is a true blessing for him and his family and the Wildcats! I've heard great things about all the work Adrian Callies, Gus King and Danny Eiber are putting in this summer too. Crew Ainge will finally play as well as he is recovered from a pesty Scaphoid injury.
Jesse Chuku '12 (Lehigh) started evry game for England U20 this summer. He averaged 6 points a game and lead the team in rebounding with 8 per game. Jesse played great and has highlights posted on Hoopfix.com. We will see a lot of Jesse in London I'm sure. We will also spend time with Jonny Bunyan '11 in Scotland and enjoy meeting the families of incoming students Aboudi Al Qattan '13 and Bennett Grigull '14.
Bill Gilbert, John Bunyan and Jackson Gibbons have worked very hard to make our trip a reality---what great friends of KUA Basketball...stay tuned.SUMMER NOTES----
Well, not exactly sure where the last 8 weeks went but happy summer anyway! It was great seeing our two seniors---Jesse Chuku and Rick Naylor---receive their degrees. Both were honored as well with leadership awards. Incredible impact on our program and they will be missed.
I just heard from Jesse and he has been named to the GB Under 20 team and he expects to have a "significant role". Also, Jonny Bunyan '11 has made the initial squad of 15 players. Twelve players will travel to Bulgaria next month to represent their country. WOW!
Devon Thomas just emailed that he will be taking an unofficial visit to UVA this weekend. Also on the trip will be incoming 6-4 combo guard Malcolm Brent. Devon has been hearing from Arizona State, Robert Morris, Fairfield, Vermont, Lehigh, and many others. He'll run the point for Mo Vasquez and Metro Boston during the July live period. Malcolm---will share the backcourt with Devon this summer--- will be a junior at KUA. He is from the Baltimore area as well. Both players have ties to the Beyond Belief program.
Devin Gilligan is hearing from Air Force and Fairfield. He stars for Bishop Elite in the summer. Rising juniors Duby Maduegbunam and Malik Abu are primed for July as they play for Ty Boswell and Expressions Elite. Duby is close to live action following spring knee surgery. Malik has several high offers and will work under many eyes in July. Danny Eiber, Long Island Lightning, will also attend Academic camps at Albright and Brandeis.
I am gearing up for my trip to Scotland and England. We'll run clinics/camp along the way. I invited my team and 11 guys took me up on it. Just putting the finishing touches on the schedule but we will play seven games in addition to attending the London Pioneer Basketball Camp.
It will be great to see and get to know bettter Aboudi al Qattan and Bennett Grigull, two new Wildcats. They starred for the American School in London for the past couple years and will be great additions to both the program and classroom.
CHECK BACK IN A COUPLE WEEKS AS I POST OUR UK TOUR SCHEDULE.MONDAY / APRIL 23 / 2012
Rick Naylor will attend Trinity College and play basketball for Head Coach James Cosgrove. Naylor chose Trinity over a host of fine schools and programs. He was considering Connecticut College, Babson, St Lawrence, and NYU. All did a great job recruiting Rick but in the end Cosgrove won out. Rick has been a mainstay in our program for the past three years. A two year starter and co-captain, Naylor averaged 12 points a game this year. He is a plus defender and a great worker. We valued Rick's work ethic and leadership within the program. Rick shot 51% from beyond the arc this year---really an incredible percentage. He will be a great addition to the Trinity program. Former Wildcat Cam Sutton is also at Trinity.MONDAY / MARCH 5 / 2012
STATS AND THOUGHTS---
A quick perusal of our individual statistics from the season attest to the balance of the team. Jesse Chuku lead the team in scoring with an average of 13.7 points per game. Devon Thomas averaged 12.1 points and Rick Naylor 12.5. Malik Abu chipped in 11 points and Devin Gilligan another 8.0 a game. Naylor, who missed one game with illness, scored 325 points while his back court mate Thomas scored 326. You can't get much better balance than that! Abu lead the team in field goal percentage making 58% of his attempts. Naylor canned 61 three point baskets (48%) in one of the premier shooting displays in New England.
St Marks ended their season 28-1 and a Class AA title. They defeated Tilton in the championship. Our twelve point loss to St Marks in the quarterfinals shows we were on the doorstep to competing for a title. Now to make that next step...
I still feel we were seeded too low---a 5 or 6 seed, while attracting a quality foe, does not pit you against the best team in the first round. Apparently there were some questions about our schedule strength. Well, our 21-6 final record includes these losses: St Marks (away, AA champions), Tilton (AA runner-up), Northfield Mount Hermon (away, AAA champion), Salisbury (neutral, A champion), Cushing (away, AA three seed), and Wilbraham (away, AA four seed). Other than these six opponents we were 21-0.
On to the off-season, got to get better.
WEDNESDAY/ FEBRUARY 29 / 2012
ST MARKS CLOSES OUT WILDCATS
KUA fell tonight to St Marks 72-62 in the quarterfinal round of the NEPSAC Class AA tournament. St Marks improves to 25-1 while KUA ends their season with an overall 21-6 record. The 2 and 7 seeds had all the makings of a potential upset. KUA had played 16 Class AA or AAA teams on the season while St Marks had played just eight. The tougher schedule figured to help the 'Cats but playing away seemed to be a larger obstacle. 7-0 Arizona signee Kaleb Tarczewski muscled his way to 23 points while Michigan recruit Stauskas worked the perimeter for 21. Devon Thomas lead the 'Cats with 16 points, Jesse Chuku and Malik Abu added 14 and 13 points respectively. Rick Naylor had nine, Devin Gilligan seven and Danny Eiber scored three.
KUA trailed by nine with3:00 remaining and forced consecutive turnovers to ignite fast breaks. However, KUA could not capitalize on either trip. It took St Marks thirteen seconds to cross half court on the next possession. No call. This would lead to my first and only technical foul on the year.
To beat Tarczewski and Co. we would have had to play efficiently and we didn't. We would have had to have some consistency in the officiating, which we did not have. And we would have needed to play with more toughness on the road. Great job by St Marks, they are a very talented and well-balanced team.
We didn't have much depth this season. We had one player leave school just prior to the holidays and we had a terrific player (Duby) injured six weeks ago. The starters played too many minutes down the stretch of the season. We will look to address that. These young men are great ambassadors for Kimball Union. Great group! Thanks for supporting the 'Cats!TUESDAY / FEBRUARY 28 / 2012
'CATS PREP FOR ST MARKS
Practice will be held today beginning at 1:30 as the Wildcats prepare for their NEPSAC Class AA Quarterfinal game versus St Marks. KUA puts their 21-5 mark on the line against St Marks, whose 24-1 record earned them the #2 seed. The winner advances to the semi-finals Friday. Wednesdays game tips off at 4:30.
We have geared our season toward this game and expect to play our best ball. Five road games in the last 11 days has prepared us for the challenge. We can go on the road and execute as we've shown. We'll need to be tough-minded and physical. We'll need to be efficient offensively. Though the task at hand appears very daunting, this is an opportunity we relish.CATS TO FACE ST MARKS WEDNESDAY
Kimball Union was awarded a #7 seed today in the upcoming NEPSAC AA Tournament and will travel south to face #2 St Marks (24-1) on Wednesday.
#1 Tilton versus #8 Vermont
#2 St Marks versus #7 KUA
#3 Cushing versus #6 St Andrews
#4 Wilbraham versus #5 Worcester
Top 4 seeds host with the winners advancing to play Friday. Go 'Cats!!SUNDAY / FEBRUARY 26 / 2012
'CATS WIN NORTHEAST PREP TOURNAMENT, AWAIT NEPSAC PAIRINGS
Kimball Union hung on for a three point win over a talented and hungry Class C Hyde (CT) School Saturday to capture the championship of the 2nd Annual NE Prep Tournament at Putnam Science Academy. Jesse Chuku was named tournament MVP and Devon Thomas and Malik Abu were named to the All-Tournament team. KUA lead 32-26 at the half but Hyde scored the first eight points of the second half to take the lead. KUA would have to rally from six back to win. Rick Naylor hit a three point basket, an Abu dunk and two nifty drives by Thomas keyed the rally.
Hyde had come back from a 29 point deficit versus PSA in the semi's and was poised for another big upset. It was not to be as KUA ends the regular season with a program-best 21-5 mark, including 12-3 in Class AA action.
Chuku's career high 32 points paced the 'Cats to victory against Christian Heritage Friday. Naylor added 18 as he continued his torrid late season pace.
The wins cap a busy final week for KUA as the team faced five opponents in an eight day span---all away games. Now, KUA awaits the announcement of the NEPSAC AA tournament pairings, which will be released this afternoon.FRIDAY / FEBRUARY 24 / 2012
NOTE: KUA'S GAME TODAY IS AT PUTNAM SCIENCE ACADEMY, PUTNAM, CT. TIP-OFF VERSUS CLASS AA OPPONENT CHRISTIAN HERITAGE IS SET FOR 5:00
CONSOLATION AND CHAMPIONSHIP ACTION IS SET FOR 3:30 AND 5:00 SATURDAY / 'CATS ARE HEALTHY AND READY TO GO (HOPEFULLY!)
WEDNESDAY / FEBRUARY 22 /2012
'CATS PUT IT ALL TOGETHER, RIP VERMONT
Leading from start to finish this afternoon KUA earns a big road win versus Class AA rival Vermont. Tremendous back-court play from Rick Naylor (25 points) and Devon Thomas (19 points and seven assists) set the tone. KUA jumps out to a 7-1 lead and holds VA to just 20 first half points (32-20, KUA). Naylor opened the second half with a three pointer to extend the lead to 35-20 and KUA maintained a 13-25 point lead throughout. This was our best passing game of the season as we continuously spotted the open cutter. Jesse Chuku had a great defensive game, Malik Abu was solid on both ends and Devin Gilligan displayed his versatility with suburb passing, defense and rebounding.
When Naylor and Thomas are playing like that we are a tough team to beat. Great bounce-back performance following Monday's disappointing effort versus Wilbraham. We talked about toughness, hustle and execution---and we got it.
KUA improves to 19-5 overall and 11-3 in AA action. Worcester Academy beat Cushing today so the seeds really are to close to call. We are still hopeful of a top 4 seed and a home playoff game. 'Cats are on the road to face Christian Heritage and Putnam Science (23-4) this weekend. Pairings will be announced Sunday.TUESDAY / FEBRUARY 21 / 2012
WILBRAHAM WINS BATTLE OF TOP AA TEAMS
Wilbraham and Monson took it to the 'Cats Monday night and secured a 72-60 victory. WM lead at the half 40-33. KUA scored the first basket of the second hald to pull within five but got no closer. Wilbrahams wing players proved more physical than KUA's and WM point guard Jaylen Brantley controlled the pace of the game. KUA was out-hustled on the glass and did not come up with enough loose balls. Malik Abu continued trending upward with a team high 17 points. Rick Naylor added 16 and Devon Thomas scored 12. 'Cats fall to 18-5 overall and 10-3 in NEPSAC AA action. Huge game at rival Vermont tomorrow, tip time is 4:30.
This loss likely doomed the 'Cats chances of a semi-final home game in the upcoming playoffs. Tilton and St Marks are unquestioned #1 and #2 seeds. Cushing has probably done enough for #3 (including a home two point OT win over the Wildcats). So that leaves WM, St Andrews, Worcester, KUA and Vermont jockeying in the final week for seeds. FOOTNOTE: I am not on the committee but this is my opinion...since it's my blog I get to have an opinion!
So, Saxons River, VT will be hopping tomorrow at 4:30. Hope to see you there.SATURDAY / FEBRUARY 18 / 2012
Eiber, Naylor Key Victory at Brimmer
KUA travelled to Chestnut Hill, MA today to face Brimmer and May in a NEPSAC Class AA tilt. In a closely contested battle, KUA prevails 53-45. B&M lead 22-20 at the half as KUA struggled to crack their zone defense. The Wildcats scored the first five points of the second half and lead the remainder of the way but not by more than the final eight point margin. Rick Naylor paced KUA with 22 points including six three's. Danny Eiber replaced Devin Gilligan early in the second half when Gilligan picked up his fourth foul. Eiber promptly nailed three trey's to keep KUA in the lead. Malik Abu added 12 points and some timely free throws. Brimmer's zone limited the effectiveness of Jesse Chuku, Devon Thomas, and Gilligan, but strong defense throughout keyed the win.
Naylor held Fordham-bound Jake Fay to just two field goals---and both of those were on out of bounds plays.
The going now gets interesting as the Wildcats travel to Wilbraham and Vermont Monday and Wednesday respectively. All three teams appear heading toward the Class AA playoffs but seeds are still to be determined. KUA improves to 18-4 overall and 10-2 in AA action. We dodged a big bullet today and need to regroup before getting on the bus to Wilbraham!THURSDAY / FEBRUARY 16 / 2012
WILDCATS ROLL TO HOME WIN ON SENIOR DAY
Dominating both ends of the floor KUA sprinted to a 80-42 victory over undermanned Proctor last night in NEPSAC Class AA action. Jesse Chuku paced all scorers with 20 points including four trey's. Devon Thomas added 15 points, Malik Abu 13, Rick Naylor chipped in 11 points and Devin Gilligan had 9. Chuku and Naylor played their final regular season home game at the 'Cat House and were honored prior to the game in a brief ceremony.
KUA held a 40-20 half-time lead and kept the pressure on. Cats record improves to 17-4 overall and 9-2 in league action. Big road game Saturday (3:00) at Brimmer in Chestnut Hill, MA.
I've said this before but the beauty of this team is that the pieces fit together so well that it allows the five starters to truly play as one. The balance has been a season long strength. Each of the starters averages between nine and fourteen points---so we can score at each position. We've been getting some solid bench minutes from Danny Eiber and Charlie Williams as well.
Great to see London Pioneer manager Bill Gilbert at the game. Bill was in the States on business and wanted to support former club member Jesse Chuku in his final home game.
Our goals in practice Thursday and Friday will be to improve defensively---we can score enough points to be successful but stopping people will become even more critical as possessions tighten up during the playoff push. Brimmer, Wilbraham and Vermont on the road in the next six days!! SATURDAY / FEBRUARY 11 /2012
'CATS CRUISE 84-52 OVER HEBRON
Kimball Union bounced back nicely this afternoon with a convincing win over Hebron. Sophomore Malik Abu scored a career high 27 points to lead the attack while Rick Naylor added 19. Jesse Chuku (12) and Devon Thomas (11) were also in double figures. Devin Gilligan chipped in 8 points. 'Cats improve to 16-4 overall and remain 8-2 in AA action. This was a tough bounce-back game following the loss to Tilton Wednesday. Emotionally, with a sparse crowd and Class B opponent, it appeared pretty tough for our guys to get energized. KUA switched to a 1-3-1 zone early in the second half and was able to get some deflections and break outs to blow the game open. Final home game of the season Wednesday versus rival Proctor. Need to keep winning as the 8 team playoff picture is coming into clearer focus...stay tuned!THURSDAY / FEBRUARY 9 / 2012
REFLECTIONS ON 67-55 LOSS
Wednesday's NEPSAC AA game with Tilton had all the ingredients for an upset: energized team, large home crowd, confidence stemming from a 15-3 record heading into the game. It was not to be however as Tilton controlled from start to finish to earn a 12 point victory. Jesse Chuku paced Wildcat scorers with 19 points, Devon Thomas had 12 and Rick Naylor added 11. Georges Niang was unstoppable, efficiently scoring 26 points. Nerlens Noel, the top unsigned player in the country, added 14 points but only made three field goals.
Jitters? KUA shoots 6-20 from the arc in thge first half and 9-33 overall from three. 'Cats connected on just 32% of their total field goals.
The Eraser Effect? Every time KUA did attack the rim Noel was their to block or alter the shot.
Physicality? Most impressive about Tilton is their sheer size. Dominique Bull, Niang and Noel are imposing...
With John Calipari, Billy Donovan and a throng of local fans watching, the Cat House was filled to capacity. Good for the program and school spirit.
We let a great opportunity slip by---we were out of sorts for most of the game. No help defense, no loose ball awareness, slightly rushed shots, etc.
We have work to do----15-4 overall and 8-2 now in AA play. Two more home games and then we finish with a week on the road. Still fighting for a playoff berth and potential top four seed to get a home game. WEDNESDAY'S NEPSAC AA GAME VERSUS TILTON TIPS OFF AT 2:30 [TILTON 20-3 VS. KUA 15-3]
SATURDAY / FEBRUARY 4 / 2012
WILDCATS RUN BY BRIMMER 79-57
KUA got their running and shooting game going today and blitzed Brimmer and May by a 79-57 score. Jesse Chuku was electric today, finishing with 26 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Rick Naylor continued his torrid pace from outside knocking down four three point baskets enroute to 18 points. Devon Thomas was again all over the floor and chipped in 14 points. Devin Gilligan added 11 points to be the fourth Wildcat in double figures. Brimmer's Division I bound back court of Oliveria and Fay were terrific today. Oliveria scored 18 points in the first half while Fay canned three trifecta's before the break. KUA slowed the two guards down in the second half---limiting Oliveria to just two free throws. Fay ended with 17 points on five triples and two free throws.
Balance continues to be a main strength for the 'Cats. All five starters average between 9 and 13 points. Duby M was averaging 9.5 as well, but he will be shut down for the remainder of the year due to pain and swelling in his patellar tendon.
We were not as sharp defensively today as we would like but B & M played well and executed their offense effectively. Our depth could be tested down the stretch without Duby but Danny Eiber and Charlie Williams are contributing. 'Cats go to 15-3 overall and 8-1 in NEPSAC AA play. National power Tilton comes to the Cat House Wednesday in a 2:30 matinee. WEDNESDAY / FEBRUARY 1 / 2012
UPDATE: Wildcats Cruise to Win
KUA builds a 32-25 halftime lead and pours on the defense today for a 66-41 victory over Master's in NEPSAC Class AA basketball. Rick Naylor paced all scorers with a career high 24 points (including 6-7 from the arc) while Devon Thomas added 17 points and eight assists. 'Cats were hot from the outside as Danny Eiber hit two threes, Thomas two, Devin Gilligan two and Jesse Chuku one. TMS played 2-3 zone the entire game, daring KUA to dial from distance.
Good second half defense as 'Cats hold Master's to just 16 points. KUA improves to 14-3 overall and 7-1 in league action. Master's had won 8 of 9 coming in.
'Cats return to then court Saturday afternoon in another AA game, facing Brimmer.'
CATS HOST MASTER'S
KUA returns to the court today facing The Master's School in a makeup date---tip time is 5:30 for the NEPSAC AA game. Master's has been on a roll since the holidays, winning 7 of 8. This is the first of five consecutive home games for the Wildcats.
Jesse Chuku leads KUA scoring with 13.3 points per game. Devon Thomas adds 12 points a game followed by Malik Abu and Rick Naylor, who average 10 points each. Devin Gilligan chips in nine a game.
THURSDAY / JANUARY 26 / 2012
KUA CONTINUES HOT, DRUBS HOLDERNESS
Wildcats travelled to Holderness last night and came away with a 70-49 victory. KUA built upon a nine point half time lead with crisp ball movement and better defense in the second half. Malik Abu lead scoring with 19 points, Jesse Chuku added 15 with three trey's, Devon Thomas chipped in 11 points and eight assists while Devin Gilligan added 10 points. 'Cats improve to 13-3 overall and 6-1 in Class AA games. The team now looks forward to five consecutive home games beginning Wednesday, Feb 1 against Master's.
One of the keys to our success this year---thus far---is the fact that the team plays as one. There are no individual agendas of any kind, they try and play defense and they work hard at sharing the ball. Having a "glue guy" like Rick Naylor (third year in the program) is a big plus. Also, we have a gifted point guard (Devon) who excels at determining the pace.
Feel good about where we are as a program but lots of ball yet to be played before the eight playoff teams are announced.
Bye this weekend and then we prepare for Master's and Brimmer at home next Wed and Saturday respectively.WEDNESDAY / JANUARY 25 / 2012
'CATS TRAVEL TO HOLDERNESS FOR FINAL JANUARY GAME
Kimball Union takes on Holderness today at 4:30 in a Lakes Region Conference and NEPSAC AA game. Holderness is in a rebuilding mode and enters the game at 2-8. KUA is 12-3 overall and 5-1 in AA action. Following today's game the Wildcats will play five consecutive games at the 'Cat House. The Master's School game, snowed out last Saturday, is rescheduled for Wednesday, Feb 1 at 5:30.
KUA sophomore Duby Maduegbunam is getting an MRI on his sore knee right now. Hopefully there is no serious damage and he can rejoin practices soon. Depth becomes a factor without the explosive sophomore.
This is a difficult game since the first game was so lopsided. Our guys need to understand Holderness has a program with tradition and pride---and they will be ready for the rematch. We will need to be very sound, push the pace, defend without fouling. Malik Abu has found some foul trouble lately and he needs to learn from these mistakes and stay on the floor.
We have posted highlight videos from five games---and are nearing 6000 hits combined! The power of new media(!!) and the power of team defense :)
Go 'Cats!FRIDAY / JANUARY 20 / 2012
'CAT HOUSE ROCKS, KUA DEFEATS VERMONT 46-43
In a back-and-forth battle between two NEPSAC heavyweights, KUA prevails today 46-43. Jesse Chuku's slam at the buzzer set off a raucus celebration between the players and court-storming students. It was an exciting ending to a 32 minute battle.
Vermont lead 23-22 at half and scored the first eight points of the second half to carve a 31-22 lead with 12 minutes remaining. KUA was ice cold for most of the game but stayed close with physical defense. Chuku ended the game with five blocks and Malik Abu three. KUA held 6-10, 270 pound center Dom Woodson to just five points.
Chuku scored the'Cats final eight points and finished with 17 points to go along with 8 rebounds and the five blocks. He was also instrumental in helping break VA's full court 1-2-1-1 press.
Devon Thomas was solid, finishing with 13 points. Thomas' steal and full court drive sparked a 8-0 "Cat run with just under 6:00 remaining. Devin Gilligan finished with 7 points, Malik Abu scored six points and was a major factor on the glass down the stretch. Rick Naylor had a steady floor game and added five points. Charlie Williams, a 6-8 sophomore reserve, was forced into extended minutes when Abu picked up three quick fouls to open the game. CW played thirteen minutes and helped control Woodson with excellent interior defense.
KUA goes to 12-3 overall and 5-1 in Class AA. Vermont was a pre-season number 20 pick nationally in Sports Illistrated. They are very good defensively---and we are too! It was a great game and it was very pleasing to have such a lift from the capacity crowd.
"Cats continue their quest for a top AA post-season berth tomorrow at 4:30 in another league match-up----this time versus athletic Master's School.THURSDAY / JANUARY 19 / 2012
CATS POUND BERWICK, READY FOR VERMONT
KUA scored early and often in racing to a 78-54 victory over Berwick Academy Wednesday afternoon at the 'Cat House. 9 of the 11 suited players scored in the win paced by Malik Abu's career high 18 points. Danny Eiber hit 4 three's enroute to 12 points. Devin Gilligan chipped in 12 and a solid floor game, Devon Thomas and Jesse Chuku added 10 points each.
'Cats face powerful Vermont Academy Friday at 4:30 and Master's School Saturday at 4:30. Big weekend home stand as KUA seeks to continue their march to the NEPSAC AA playoffs next month.
The Berwick game was viewed as a tune-up for the weekend and did not disappoint. KUA surged to a 51-25 half time lead and the straters gave way to some youngsters early in the second half.
Contrasting styles this weekend: Vermont features two big, physical posts and a tremendous wing in McNeil. Master's has little bulk but a lot of speed.
KUA ups their record to 11-3 overall, 4-1 in AA. Let's pack the Den this weekend and keep it rolling!SATURDAY / JANUARY 14 / 2012
TOUGH OT LOSS TO CUSHING
'Cats travelled to Cushing today for a 3:30 matinee. CA built a 32-29 half-time lead but KUA opened the second half by scoring the first 10 points to corral a 39-32 lead. Foul trouble proved large as Cushing chipped away. A Kaleb Joseph three point basket against KUA's 3-2 zone tied the game 56-56 with 48 seconds remaining. KUA had two lomg range shots to win in regulation but came up empty. Cushing outscored the 'Cats 9-7 to secure the 65-63 victory.
Great game with two good Class AA teams duking it out. Joseph is terrific, sophomore point guard. He's reportedly been offered by Maryland among many others. Devin Thomas went toe-to-toe with him and sparked KUA throughout. Devin finished with 14 points and 8 assists. Jesse Chuku had an excellent game, finishing with 18 points, 5 rebounds and two blocks. Chuku's 20' shot from the right wing at the buzzer rimmed out.
Cushing goes to 9-2, 'Cats fall to 10-3. KUA hits the halfway mark on their season and has played 11 of 13 away from the cozy "Cat House. Good to be home three times this week. Wednesday versus Berwick, Friday against powerful Vermont Academy and Saturday versus AA opponent Master's School.
Played a bit to impatient today, couple of careless turnovers and a few missed free throws down the stretch (though 9-13 overall). The officiating also was a bit "inconsistent"----it's my blog and I can say that!WEDNESDAY/ JANUARY 11 /2012
'CATS CRUISE TO VICTORY OVER EXETER
A solid effort defensively lead KUA to a 65-43 victory over Exeter today. KUA lead wire to wire in earning their 10th victory on the season. 'Cats jumped out to a 30-21 halftime lead and scored the first eight points of the second half. Devon Thomas continually split the PEA defense and either finished himself or dished off to teammates. Thomas finished with 16 points and seven assists and controlled the tempo throughout. Devin Gilligan had his prep high of 18 points and was a key defender versus Exeter's long range game. Rick Naylor and Malik Abu also scored in double figures.
KUA goes to 10-2 overall and 4-0 in Class AA. Exeter entered play with a 6-1 overall record.
Wildcats go on the road again Saturday facing Cushing in a key game.
Our kids were very focused today---great hustle and leadership from the captains, Chuku, Thomas and Naylor. We have a chance to be special defensively, just need some more practice time. My job also is to extend the bench. Danny Eiber and Charlie Williams are ready to contribute and need minutes. Duby M rested a sore knee today, hopefully he'll be ready for Saturday's showdown at Cushing.
Note: Saturdays game was originally scheduled to be part of the BABC Classic---it has been switched to a home game for Cushing (I don't blame them!).
Keys: share the ball, be verbal defensively, physical on the glass, and take advantage of sprint opportunities. Big game for early in the season.SATURDAY / JANUARY 6 /2012
WILD RALLY LEADS TO WIN OVER MARIANAPOLIS
Double OT thriller ends 59-56...'Cats finished the regulation portion of the game with a 25-5 run over just seven minutes. Trailing 46-26 KUA found a way to turn the momentum around.
Balanced scoring was the rule again with Devon Thomas leading the way with 15 points and eight assists. Rick Naylor hit three triples on the way to 12 points. Malik Abu added 10 points and seven rebounds. Jesse Chuku and Devin Gilligan chipped in nine each. Chuku's basket gave KUA the lead at 2:00 of the second overtime.
We were flat the first half and Chuku spent most of it on the bench with three fouls. Marianapolis lead 31-21 at the half and scored the first six points of the second half to go up 37-21. A KUA time out did nothing to stem the tide as Marianapolis stretched the lead to 46-26 with under eight minutes remaining.
Thomas fueled the comeback with three steals, three assists and seven points in the final minutes.
Long, bouncy bus ride but worth it. 'Cats go to 9-2 overall and 4-0 in Class AA games. Exeter Weddnesday.THURSDAY / JANUARY 4 / 2012
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Was it The Who that had the song, "Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends"? Well, either way, welcome back for the stretch run of Wildcat Hoops 2012!!
"Sluggish" would be the adjective to describe our first week back from break. Practices Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday have been average at best. Perhaps Thursday and Friday will be better...and with Marianapolis looming Saturday (at Marianapolis, 3:00 tip) we better show some improvement.
Glad to be 8-2 pre-break even though we gave one game away to Salisbury. Next three opponents---Marianapolis, Exeter and Cushing, all on the road, have a combined record of 21-1. Looks like a tremendous challenge lies ahead for the 'Cats. Jesse Chuku leads KUA in scoring with 14.2 points per game. Devon Thomas and Duby Maduegbunam chip in 11.0 and 10.6 respectively, Rick Naylor (9.6) and Malik Abu (9.1) are next with Devin Gilligan adding 7.2.
Abu leads in field goal percentage (62.5%). Chuku leads in three point baskets made (24). Naylor leads in free throw percentage (canning 16-17). Chuku, Naylor, Thomas and Maduegbunam have each had a 20+ point game---all of which proves we have a lot of offensive weapons, if only we would play defense and rebound :)
And so it goes...the 8 week fight for eight playoff berths in NEPSAC AA begins Saturday!SATURDAY / DECEMBER 17 / 2011
'Cats take 3rd place in the Bob Southall Holiday Classic defeating Berkshire Friday afternoon. Duby Maduegbunum paced KUA's attack with 21 points, including six trey's. Jesse Chuku and Devon Thomas also reached double figures with 13 and 12 points respectively. KUA goes to 8-2 on the season and now breaks until Jan 7.
This game was a challenge mentally and physically. We played Sunday at Babson College, Tuesday at Andover, Wednesday at Loomis against a very physical Salisbury, Thursday versus Pomfret and Friday in the third place game! Frankly, I asked our kids to do something they were incapable of doing, namely being ready to play with total focus and intensity five times in six days---all on the road.
And so it is that we break for two weeks---Jesse flies to London, Adrian to San Antonio, Danny goes home to LI, Devon to Maryland, etc. Boarding school kids have great advantages as well as tremendous challenges. No doubt all will enjoy the rest and family time!UPDATE: KUA Defeats Pomfret 87-47
Day two of the Bob Southall Holiday Tournament left the Wildcats happier with the result as KUA pounded an overmatched Pomfret squad this afternoon by a score of 87-47. 'Cats jumped out to a 31-8 lead and never looked back. KUA extended the lead to 50-22 at the half. All of the 12 players dressed saw action with Charlie Williams (8 points) and Gus King (6 points) scoring career highs.
Devon Thomas also produced a career high with 20 points. Rick Naylor and Duby Maduegbunum continued their fine play with 12 points each. 'Cats go to 7-2 on the year and face the Loomis-Gunnery winner for the consolation title Friday at 2:30. And then...it is Christmas break!!!
College coaches from Norwich, Trinity, Wesleyan, St Lawrence, Quinnipiac, Iowa State, and Stony Brook have watched the 'Cats this week thus far. 12 / 15 / 2011
FATIGUE, DINGBA COST 'CATS
Playing three games in four days proved too much for the Wildcats as KUA drops a heart-breaker 54-51 to Salisbury in the opening round of the Bob Southall Loomis Holiday Classic. KUA lead 51-50 and had possession with 50 seconds remaining. In the double bonus it was apparent KUA would milk the clock and hope to get fouled. However, KUA turned the ball over not once, but three times in the final minute. KUA had a chance to tie with a three point attempt at the buzzer but missed.
Jesse Chuku lead KUA scoring with 16 points followed by Duby Madguebunum chipped in 14 and Rick Naylor 10. Salisbury sharpshooter Hedley hit 23 while Sam Dingba contolled the glass finishing with 14 rebounds.
KUA would convert on just 4-19 field goal attempts in the second half. 17 turnovers also contibuted to the defeat. Foul trouble plagued the 'Cats as Malik Abu and Devon Thomas would spend large chunks of the game on the bench and eventually foul out. Disappointing loss in a marquee matchup....Salisbuty is considered by many to be the top Class A team in New England while KUA brought a six game win streak to the court.
'Cats face either Bershire or Pomfret at 5:00 Thursday in a bounce back game!Update: Rick Naylor Leads KUA to Win
KUA wins on the road today 73-61. Rick Naylor scored 22 points to lead all scorers. Jesse Chuku added 19 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. The seniors combined for seven three point field goals. Balance was key again as Malik Abu and Devin Gilligan chipped in nine each while Devon Thomas scored eight. Andover scored the first five points of the game but KUA would go on a 23-0 run over the next six minutes.
We were sloppy today---another mid-week day game! But we have one tomorrow also!! Need to play much better against Salisbury to have a good chance to win. Our kids have great chemistry and thus have a chance to be pretty special late in the year, especially on the defensive end.Tuesday / Dec 12 / 2011
Four Games in Four Days!
The time has come for one of the bigger mental and physical challenges of the season. We will play four games in successive days beginning with today's matinee at Andover (3:30 tip). We travel to Loomis-Chaffee tomorrow for the Bob Southall Tournament where we meet a strong Salisbury team at 6:00. Conditioning, depth, toughness...important ingredients to success---will be tested.
Happy with our Tabor game Sunday. We shared the ball extremely well as evidenced by our 31-51 performance from the floor. It was a plus game defensively as well though we had some growing pains, too many slow transitions, put-backs, fouls. But we got after it when it counted. Andover has a good scorer in Ryan Hartnung, a St. Anselm commit. 6-9 Thomas Palleschi gives them bulk inside. They beat us in our gym last year so we expect a good test.
'Cats go for win #6 today, hope to have some highlights up later today!Saturday /Dec 11 / 2011
Big win today with a 77-62 decision over Tabor. The game was played at Babson College. Duby M exploded for 17 points off the bench. Jesse Chuku added four three point baskets enroute to 16 points. He also had eight rebounds and four blocks. Devin Gilligan had 12 points and an excellent defensive effort. Devon Thomas contributed 10 points and controlled the pace. Thomas went 60 feet in .03 seconds for a layin at the half---38-32 KUA.
Tabor played well and we were forced to match their effort.
In a balanced attack KUA got 10 points from Malik Abu, who also shut out hightly touted 6-8 Jared Ruetter for the first half. Rick Naylor pitched in nine points and a good floor game.
College coaches from Harvard, BU, Lehigh, Delaware, Emerson, Babson, Norwich, and Trinity watched the game. A good, solid effort in preparation for four consecutive games next week.
Andover and Salisbury are next on the docket. 'Cats go to 5-1 overall.Update:
Cats jumped out to a 38-18 halftime lead today. Great focus, energy, ball movement and defense. A balanced attack was lead by Jesse Chuku with 20 points including four three point baskets. Devon Thomas was outstanding---with yet more highlight reel oops. Malik had 11, Duby nine and Devin Gilligan added 8 and nine rebounds.
We were able to empty the bench enroute to the 68-33 win. Good tune-up for Tabor Sunday at 3:30 at Babson College. 'Cats go to 4-1 overall.Friday / Dec 9 / 2011
HOLDERNESS TODAY IN LAKES REGION TILT
Looking to win our fourth game in a row 'Cats host Holderness today in a 5:00 tip-off. Holderness has a new team from a year ago having graduated all five starters. They have great size with a pair of 6-9 posts inside. Our interior defense will be tested. We also need to not be in love with the first shot opportunity that comes our way---Patience being a key attribute to successful offense.
Jesse Chuku leads KUA in scoring with 13 points per game. Devon Thomas and Malik Abu average 11.0, Rick Naylor adds 8.25 and Devin G adds 6.5 and Duby M another 6.1.
'Cats travel to Babson College to face Tabor Sunday at 3:30.Thursday / Dec 8 / 2011
LESS THAN STELLAR WIN
In yesterdays post I talked about the need to be ready to perform 26 times a year! Well, we failed that test Wednesday afternoon in a 59-41 victory over a young Proctor squad. We had some objectives: excellent warmup, "first five minutes", defensive intensity throughout the first half, establish running game, bench enthusiastic, etc. We failed each of them. Every player was flat and it showed with the score 6-6 after eight minutes....
We did play with more energy the second half (half-time score 24-13). Duby M and Devin G had some steals and offensive rebounds. Duby had a highlight reel oop dunk from Devin Thomas...but the highlights were few and far between.
Defensively we are not far away. Master's had 15 first half points, Deerfield just 20, and PA 13. We need to learn to sustain but the framework is in. Offense is another question and hopefully we can make some progress in practice today. School is delayed due to the power outage following the wet snow storm last night...
Devin Gilligan led Wed scoring with 14 points, Devon Thomas added 11 points and 10 assists, Rick Naylor and Jesse Chuku chipped in nine points each.
'Cats go to 3-1 and face Lakes Region rival Holderness at 5:00 Friday---see you at the 'Cat House!Wednesday / Dec 7 / 2011
OFF TO THE RACES!
Today begins a stretch of seven games in ten days...we travel to Proctor for a 3:30 Lakes Region game today, host Holderness Friday and go to Babson College to face Tabor Sunday, and thats just the warmup for a busier week next week.
We are going to open with Duby Maduegbunam at small forward today. He and Devin Gilligan will flip duties. Duby is pretty explosive offensively while Devin is a rugged defender. Still early in the season obviously so roles are being defined. We are going to face some terrific individual players in the next two weeks so our team defense will be tested.
Do your players understand the need to be who they are every day?
We ask our guys to be ready 26 times a year---not just when they feel like it or when they "perceive" it to be a big game.
Do your players seek and execute every sprint-opportunity? Some guys run the floor occasionally...
make certain your players sprint back on defense and run the floor hard on offense---it's a big part of the game.
Be verbal! Good teams and players are constantly talking. "A quiet gym is a loser's gym".
Off to Proctor, Go 'Cats!!Saturday / Dec 3 / 2011
BACK TO BACK WINS
Facing a determined, scrappy Deerfield squad provided a challenge for the 'Cats today but a focused team effort prevailed as KUA wins 67-52. KUA jumped out to a 6-0 lead---including an alley-oop from Devin Thomas to Jesse Chuku and a dunk by Malik Abu---'Cats opened a 38-20 half-time lead. Jesse had a stellar home debut with 16 points, Malik's first game at the Cat House was a good one as he dominated the paint enroute to 15 points. Rick Naylor chipped in 12 points in a solid overall effort. Devon Thomas added 7 points and controlled the pace, finishing with 8 assists. KUA lead by 25 points before emptying the bench. Wildcats improve to 2-1 after wins over Master's and Deerfield.
We are starting to defend and get more comfortable with our offensive sets. Good opportunity to improve with two practices next week before travelling to Proctor Wednesday. There is no substitution for repitition and communication---and we need to take advantage of the practice opportunities.
I've told Jesse, Rick and Devon that we will go as far as they take us. Rick has been in the program three years now. Devon played a lot for us a year ago and Jesse was in training camp and spring ball a year ago---though he missed the season due to his illness. But these three know me and know what is expected---plus they are talented. The exciting thing to watch will be the development of the other kids in the rotation. I'm very excited about Duby, Devin, Malik and Danny. I also see Charlie Williams improving. We will need to develop some depth!!
Go Packers and see you next week. Friday / Dec 2 / 2011
QUICK START LEADS TO FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON
KUA defeats Master's School tonight 67-43. "Cats jumped out to leads of 8-0, 12-3. 18-4 and, eventually 32-8 in the first half. A quick Master's spurt just before half trimmed the lead to 34-15 going into the break. Master's never got closer than 17 points in the second half. Jesse Chuku and Malik Abu paced KUA scoring with 17 points each while Devon Thomas chipped in 15 points and five assists. Chuku earned a double-double by adding 11 rebounds. Master's was small and fast compared to the size of NMH Wednesday. All in all a good win.
All thirteen players who dressed played with Gus King and Cooper Williams netting their first varsity points.
Back to the hardwood tomorrow for the home opener against Deerfield. Game time is set for 3:30---a switch from the original 3:00 tip time.
It would be great to play well in all phases to build some momentum for next weeks two Class AA games against Proctor and Holderness. Hope to see you at the Cat House!Wednesday /November 30 / 2011
'CATS CREAMED AT NMH, BUT SHOW PROMISE
KUA opened the 2011-12 season this afternoon traveling to Northfield Mount-Herman for a 3:00 matinee. Class AAA power NMH pulled away in the second half to win 81-51. A back and forth first half saw the Wildcats trailing just 38-34 after leading 34-33 with 1:00 remaining. NMH scored the last five points of the half and the first eight of the second half as they began to pull away. Size and depth was a factor as NMH rotated four 6-10 post players throughout the game. Duby M had a good debut for KUA with 16 points. Jesse Chuku added 13 points in his first action and junior guard Devon Thomas chipped in 11. Chuku and Thomas did their work in the first half scoring 22 of their 24 points. NMH fired in 15 three point baskets in a red hot shooting performance.
This is really what one might expect. NMH had played games and began practicing earlier than us. We had just 8 full squad practices under our belt. I was really pleased with our first half effort but equally disturbed by our second half play (outscored 43-17). I was very impressed with their squad---disciplined and well-coached. Great size and shooters.
We'll regroup, practice Thursday and head to beautiful Simsbury, CT Friday to face a fast Master's School. Monday / November 28 / 2011
READY OR NOT...
After a full week of tryouts and a week off for Thanksgiving vacation it is time to tip-off the 105th season of Wildcat Basketball! Following practices today and tomorrow we open at Northfield Mount-Herman Wednesday at 3:00. We follow up the opener with two weekend games: at Master's Friday and home against Deerfield Saturday. Overall we will play 10 games and have 8 practices in the next 19 days. This is a hectic, challenging schedule but one we will embrace.
Jesse Chuku, Rick Naylor and Devon Thomas will serve as tri-captains and they will be heavily relied upon for their abilities and leadership. They represent as good a trio of players as we have had. They must set the tone in practices and games. We have little experience beyond these three though newcomers Danny Eiber, Duby Maduegbunam, Abdul-Malik Abu and Devin Gilligan have played alot of ball around the country. How quickly we gel will be a big factor.
As is our nature we will work toward becoming a solid defensive team, we will value the ball, we will play hard. This formula works but it takes time to develop a team identity and define roles. Opening against a powerful opponent like NMH will likely give us a very real picture of our weaknesses! I expect a myriad of growing pains but that is part of the process. Let's throw the ball up three times this week and see where we stand Saturday night!
Go 'Cats!Friday / November 4 / 2011
NOT LONG NOW...
The ten week fall trimester and sports season seems to fly by quite fast and, as such, hoop season is just around the corner. Our guys have done a good job in the classroom, the weight room and the court---but everyone is getting antsy to begin practicing. We'll have light workouts around exams the week of Nov 14-19. Following a one week break for Thanksgiving we'll begin practicing in earnest for our opener against NMH on 11/30. In a schedule relatively unique to boarding schools we'll have 10 practices along with 10 games from 11/26-12/16! Yikes!! We'll certainly have our depth tested...
I always enjoy observing the collegiate exhibition season this time of year. High majors generally pay DII and DIII teams to come to their arena and get walloped. It's good for everyone---the big boys get to work out some kinks, the little guys get to play on a big stage and the administators benefit from ticket sales and guarantee's. Typically the high majors pay from 5k-20k for the right to clobber the visitors. How interesting I find it when the little guys rise up and defeat the power guys. This year alone Seattle Pacific has beaten Arizona and Northern State (SD) has defeated Butler. Last year Lemoyne beat Syracuse. This is fascinating---what does it really say? Inferior talent can occasionally rise up and beat more powerful opponents by playing the game within themselves. The formula usually is pretty simple: outwork them, play better together, care more, value the ball, take good shots, don't foul, block out, etc. In short, they don't beat themselves. Meanwhile, the McDonald's All-Americans are not respectful of their opponent, they want their shots, they are careless, etc. So, the game being 40 minutes, develops its own personality---and the longer the game is close the better chance the inferior opponent has to make a couple shots at the end and pull an upset. It doesn't matter that the bigger school might be the smaller school 99 times out of a hundred....these upsets occer at such a rate that they are not all together that surprising anymore. There are certainly lessons here!
Check out our schedule and get to some games!! We've got a great group of young men. Monday / October 17 / 2011
CHUKU COMMITS TO LEHIGH
Jesse Chuku has verbally committed to Lehigh University following his official visit this weekend. Check out these releases on Jesse's prospects on the British basketball community newsletter "Hoopfix.com
" and the New England Recruiting Report
. What great news! Jesse missed last season due to illness but came back strong to star for Metro Boston and Coach Mo last spring and summer on the AAU circuit. A 6-7 combination forward with great athleticism and solid perimeter skills, Jesse will be a great match for Lehigh's dribble-drive offense. Jesse has bloomed in the classroom while at KUA and much credit for his success must go to our fine faculty---they have inspired him to reach new heights.
Jesse cut his teeth in London playing for both the London Pioneers and Barking Abbey Academy. He was also a key contributor to the England Under 18 National team in 2010.
Chuku will join fellow senior Rick Naylor as captains this season for the 'Cats. These two guys, along with Devin Thomas '13, will provide excellent leadership for our young squad. No less than six sophomores figure to be on the 12 man varsity.
Four more weeks of preseason before we can begin practicing!Wednesday / September 21 / 2011
RECRUITERS FINDING WAY TO MERIDEN
It's been great to host college coaches from near and far this fall. University of Wisconsin Assistant Gary Close was here yesterday. Great to talk some hoops with him before the workout. Other visitors have come representing Vermont, American, Princeton, Elon, St Bonaventure, Boston University, and Lehigh. Coming soon will be Long Island Hartford and UNH....Hope to get Malik Abu and Rick Naylor back scrimmaging soon. Malik fractured a finger recently and Rick has a significant ankle sprain. Devin Gilligan is slowed as well with a nagging ankle. Our guys are lifting four days a week and scrimmaging three times. Seven more weeks before we begin practice. Seems like a long time but it goes fast!Tuesday / September 13 / 2011
BACK FROM DAKOTA!
Just got back from Spearfish, South Dakota. Certainly it was a great honor to be inducted into the Black Hills State University Hall of Fame. I used to follow the old adage that "I wouldn't want to be included into any club that would have me." But, no more. It was great to see old friends and connect with many former players. The greatest thrill for any coach is to see former players thriving years later. My BHSU guys are all outstanding family men and successful in their careers. That means so much to me.
Fast-forward to the present. Pleased to have such significant interest in our guys. Dozens of DI and DII coaches are making the trek to Meriden to check out our open gyms. Workouts are scheduled for Tuesdays (4:00), Wednesdays (3:00) and Thursdays (6:30).
Great to have Rick Naylor here for a third year in our program. I can lean on him for leadership and he gets it. Great worker, student and person.
My son Erik is back from Australia and will get some court time this week. He just committed to returning to The Community School, Sun Valley, Idaho, for his second year as Head Coach. He plans to return to Australia to play and coach in March.
Go 'Cats (and Packers).Thursday / August 24 / 2011
SUMMER IS OVER!
The summer has come and gone. New students are arriving and preparing for their orientation hikes in the White Mountains. I am working to readjust to EST after 15 days running camps in the UK. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to travel throughout the UK conducting camps with good friend Jeff Trumbauer, an assistant coach at Augustana College.
Camp I: Derby, England / Derby Trail Blazers Basketball Club under the direction of Jamie Maudsley and Matt Shaw.
Camp II: London, England / Midnight Madness under the direction of Jackson Gibbons
Camp III: London, England / London Pioneers Basketball Club under the direction of Bill Gilbert
Camp IV: Falkirk, Scotland / Falkirk Fury Basketball Club under the direction of John Bunyan
We coached about 100 kids total and got to spend time with some great people.
Jesse Chuku '12 was formerly involved with both MM and the Pioneers. Jesse came to camp and looked very good. He is sorting through about 15 DI offers at this time.
We are going to have a good team this year and will get excellent leadership from Jesse, Rick Naylor '12 and Devin Thomas '13. Monday / May 9 / 2011
SIVERAND SIGNS WITH NORTH CAROLINA A&T
Kimball Union Academy post-graduate Waylan Siverand has signed a national letter of intent to attend North Carolina A&T.
Siverand, a 6-7 forward, started all 26 games for the Wildcats this year. He is a 2009 graduate of Hightower High School, Houston, Texas.
“We are extremely proud of Waylan,” said KUA Head Coach Mike Olson. “He worked very hard, both on the court and in the classroom, to accomplish his goal of receiving a Division I scholarship. This is a tribute to his perseverance and work ethic.”
Siverand appreciated and benefited from the academic challenges put forward by the KUA faculty. He said he was “thrilled to attend A&T and it would not have happened without the support of my teachers, in particular Ms. Dilorio, Ms. Howe, Mr. Lord, and Mr. Porrazzo. I am thankful for their confidence in me.”
North Carolina A&T is located in Greensboro, North Carolina and is a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. A&T has a strong basketball tradition, winning 19 conference tournament titles since 1972.
Siverand joins Brian Fabrizius (Princeton), Ryan Daye (Wingate), and Danny Brooks (St. Joseph’s College of Maine) as Wildcats who are moving on to play collegiately. KUA finished 15-11 in NEPSAC Class AA this year.
Wednesday / April 13 / 2011
Ryan Daye to Wingate University
High-flying post-graduate guard Ryan Daye will return to his home state and play for Wingate University. Daye signed today, the first day of the spring signing period. Daye will join a strong Bull-Dog program lead by Brian Good. He received a full scholarship at the NCAA II school. Daye was a team captain, MVP, and honorable mention All-New England. He averaged 14 points a game for KUA. Daye graduated from The Elon School before pursuing a post graduate year at Kimball Union.Danny Brooks
will attend St Joseph College of Maine and play for the DIII Monks. Brooks averaged 11 points a game and was named honorable mention All-New England and was awarded the Coaches award for his leadership and sportsmanship. Brooks is a graduate of Catholic Memorial High School, Dorcester, Mass.
Brooks and Daye join Brian Fabrizius, who will attend Princeton, as post graduate student-athletes at KUA who have made their college decision. CONGRATULATIONS! Thursday / March 24 / 2011
News and Notes
Ryan Daye, Danny Brooks and Brian Fabrizius have been named honorable mention Class AA All-New England. Congratulations! Each was very deserving....Also, Daye was voted team MVP by his peers and Brooks was honored with the Coaches Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship.
When our guys return from break it will be full go until Memorial Day. The seniors / post grads will be visiting colleges and making final decisions while also working out regularly. Rising senior Jesse Chuku and rising junior Devon Thomas will spend some spring weekends playing AAU for Boston Metro. Rising senior Rick Naylor also has some AAU tournaments lined up. (Those three give a good nucleus to build around...)
Bill Gilbert visited last week. He is instrumental in the London Pioneers Club program. Bill brought three of his players to the US for a series of basketball events and they made their way to Meriden for a couple days. The Pioneers are planning a summer tour of the eastern US and plan to spend a week on campus at KUA. Of course, Jesse Chuku is an alum of the Pioneer program.
Great NCAA match-up tonight as Butler plays Wisconsin. Brad Stevens---BU coach---has some interesting comments about UW saying something to the effect of "they make the extra pass to get a better shot, they are hard to score against, they take charges and dive on the floor for loose balls, and they don't turn it over." Lot's of Badger-bashing by the mainstream media but did you know that Bo Ryan has the highest winning percentage in the history of the Big 10? Hmmm...
And, finally, Erik Olson, son of yours truly, makes his Australian debut Saturday night. Erik is playing for the Wagga Heat, New South Wales. He is also head coach of the club's 18 and under team.
Probably a bit warmer and sunnier in Australia as my mountain still has three feet of snow!!
Monday / February 28 / 2011
No Bid for Wildcats
In a disappointing ending to a successful season the KUA Wildcats were not invited to the Class AA playoffs. Vermont, Hotchkiss and Holderness secured the final three spots with KUA presumably next in line. As this is the first year in the newly configurated 17 team league there are bound to be some growing pains...but it is hard for me to see how Hotchkiss, who played only three AA games all year, could secure a bid. KUA compiled a record of 8-7 in AA competition...incomparable really. KUA also posted a 4-3 record against the top 8 seeds, including victories over the 3 seed, 4 seed, 6 seed and 8 seed. Again, Hotchkiss only played three AA games all year...
Our guys were great all season from a character standpoint. They never argued amongst themselves or the coaches, no technicals all year, solid effort almost every night, respect for the game, opponents and each other. Much to be said for the way they carried themselves. The KUA Way was on display all winter! Great job men.
15-11 record overall on the heels of 17-10 a year ago (32-21), good players back, work ethic established---things look good. We probably fell one win short of a second consecutive tournament bid. And, we probably controlled our destiny in retrospect---blowing a 17 point lead at Holderness a month ago likely proved costly.
Saturday / February 26 / 2011
'Cats Nip Saints, Await Playoff Announcement
Needing three wins this week against quality opponents to stay in the Class AA playoff picture KUA managed the trifecta today with a hard-fought 55-51 win over powerful St. Andrews in the regular season finale. St. Andrews entered the game with a 22-6 record and Syracuse bound All-American Michael Carter-Williams in tow. Williams would lead all scorers with 24 points but Danny Brooks and Jonny Bunyan made him work for every shot. Williams was forced to do much of his damage from the free throw line as the Wildcats team defense limited him to just five field goals.
KUA trailed 27-24 in a close first half. The largest margin for either team was five points throughout the second half. Brian Fabrizius hit a big three point basket to forge a tie with with 2:30 remaining and Ryan Daye followed with another trey to push KUA into a 52-49 lead with 1:20 left. Fabrizius then blocked a shot a pulled in the rebound on St. Andrew's next possession. He was fouled and made one of two from the line. St. Andrew's answered with a put back setting the stage for a frantic finish. KUA sophomore Devin Thomas got free on the inbounds play and was fouled immediately. With his team leading 53-51 Thomas calmly sank both free throws to clinch the victory.
Daye lead the Wildcat attack with 16 points, Jonny Bunyan chipped in 12, Waylan Siverand had a steady 10, Fabrizius finished with nine points ---and six blocks---and Danny Brooks added six points to go with a stellar defensive effort on MCW.
KUA ends the regular season with a 15-11 mark and awaits the tournament pairings. It appears Tilton, St. Marks, St. Andrews, Cushing and Marianapolis are assured of bids with Tilton and St. Marks expected to be one or two. That leaves KUA, Holderness, Vermont and Hotchkiss fighting for three spots.
We have played our best ball down the stretch, winning six of our final seven games, with the only loss in overtime. That may not be enough however as the teams in contention are very deserving. Of the teams in the mix we have defeated Holderness, Cushing, St. Andrews and Vermont, but have also lost three to those teams. We blew a 17 point second half lead at Holderness last month which could come back to haunt us.
Stay Tuned!Wednesday / February 23 / 2011
Big Win Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive
KUA found a way today---and pulled out a 62-61 win over a strong rival, Vermont Academy, in NEPSAC Class AA action. Ryan Daye lead the attack with 23 points, Waylan Siverand chipped in 12 points and Dan Brooks, Rick Naylor and Jonny Bunyan each hit big baskets down the stretch. KUA had to withstand a 27' field goal attempt by VA forward Connor Merrill at the buzzer. Since Brimmer hit a similar shot on Saturday for a last second win---shades of deja vu were in the minds of many. Each team knew the importance of the game and the nip-and-tuck battle appropriately went to the final shot.
As in the win Monday over Wilbraham, KUA played the entire second half with a four guard line-up. This allowed the'Cats to switch every screen and make it difficult for VA's athletic guards to turn the corner off the high ball-screen. Kudo's to my guys for the gritty execution and the will to avenge a 25 point smacking from VA last month.
KUA goes to 14-11 on the season and clinches back to back winning seasons. More is at stake Saturday---powerful St. Andrews comes to the Cat House and a victory may still be needed for a tournament invite. Tuesday / February 22 / 2011
Wildcats Earn Big Road Win
KUA traveled to Wilbraham and Monson Monday night and came away with a hard fought 56-50 road win. Brian Fabrizius lead the scoring with 16 points, including four triples. Ryan Daye added 14 points which included a 25' shot at the first half buzzer for some much needed momentum. Waylan Siverand and Rick Naylor chipped in 10 and nine points respectively. Devin Thomas and Jonny Bunyan had excellent floor games---Bunyan hit a big three down the stretch and Thomas had two important free throws with under 2:00 remaining. In a back-and-forth affair KUA lead 25-21 at the half, trailed 45-40 at the nine minute mark, took the lead at the 3:30 mark on a Siverand dunk...and hit 5-6 free throws down the stretch.
The Wildcats improve to 13-11 overall and now look forward to two big AA games at home this week: Vermont on Wednesday and St. Andrews on Saturday. Two wins may propel the 'Cats into the playoffs.
Reflecting on the season it is apparent we gave away too many games, particularly late season losses to Holderness and Brimmer. Versus Holderness on 1/26 we had a 15 point lead in the second half, and against Brimmer on 2/19 we had an eleven point lead in the second half. We buckled both games---win those and we enter the final week of play at 15-9 and in great shape for a top eight seed.
That said, our kids showed great character to rally back last night. We lead, then we trailed by five down the stretch. In a big gamble we chose to play with four guards and Waylan for the last 7:00---and the quickness factor prevailed. W&M was forced to counter our lineup by going small too, and this played to our advantage. No easy ones in NEPSAC Class AA!
Tip-off Wednesday is set for 4:00 at the 'Cat House. This should be a great game.Thursday / February 17 / 2011
'Cats Roll to Third Straight Win
KUA jumped out to a 40-12 half-time lead against Proctor and never looked back. Continuing to play briskly in the second half the Wildcats secured a 81-37 victory. Waylan Siverand paced a balanced attack with 16 points, Ryan Daye and Rick Naylor had 12 each and Devin Thomas chipped in 11. KUA moves to 12-10 on the season. Proctor, in a complete rebuilding mode, played hard throughout but were over-matched in size and depth.
The win keeps KUA in the Class AA playoff picture. It is likely that winning out---four tough games left in the next nine days---is the only way in. We are playing with renewed confidence lately and eagerly await the challenge. Brimmer, Wilbraham, Vermont and St. Andrew's are also jockeying for playoff bids and seeds. It will be quite interesting to see where everyone sits once the dust settles.
Brimmer has a talented squad---very deep and athletic. We will seek to avenge a 52-29 pasting just two weeks ago. In that game the lid was on the Wildcat basket as we were 8-40 overall from the field, including 0-17 from the arc.
This time of the year you pretty much "are who you are". No surprises really, success will often simply come down to who defends, who executes, and which team is playing with a "competitive swagger". I don't ever promote cockiness but I love confidence. Good players never doubt themselves. They prepare mentally and physically and then they compete. Win or lose it's "who's next?" It's never, "I'm no good". NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF POSITIVISM.
Tip-off Saturday is slated for 3:00 at the 'Cat House.
Sunday / February 13 / 2011
Weekend Sweep May Create Momentum
We might ask, if not now, when? With just two weeks remaining in the regular season it is time for the Wildcats to play their best basketball of the season in hopes of making a late push to the Class AA play-offs. Following a successful road weekend KUA stands at 11-10 on the year and looks to keep the momentum heading into a Lakes Region contest versus Proctor Wednesday afternoon.
KUA defeated Kents Hill 70-34 Friday night behind 19 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots from Brian Fabrizius. Rick Naylor was on fire from behind the arc knocking down five triples enroute to 15 points. KUA followed Fridays win with a similar drubbing of Hebron 61-38 behind Waylan Siverands 13 points. Danny Brooks chipped in 10 points. All ten players scored on Saturday with sophomore guard Tarik Octave and freshmen Charlie "Cha-Cha" Williams and Adrian Callies having some good minutes.
Jonny Bunyan greeted his brother Keith and family friend Allan for the weekend. They made the flight over from Falkirk, Scotland and donned eye-popping kilts for the weekend. Hopefully we'll have some photo's up soon!
Kents Hill and Hebron were Class B common opponents with KUA for many years. Both schools dropped to Class C this year---based on enrollment---while KUA upped the ante to Class AA. Both teams were outmanned but scrappy. Both schools have outstanding athletic facilities and are great hosts---so it is a worthwhile journey.
With five tough Class AA opponents remaining on the schedule it it do or die time. With just eight teams entering the post-season it looks like we will have to win out to have a realistic shot. Three of the five are in the 'Cat House so that might help. However each game presents its own challenges. After all---Saturday's opponent (Brimmer) only smacked us by a 52-29 score last week. We have the ability and character to finish strong and thats what I predict we'll do. Stay Tuned...
Friday / February 11 / 2011
'Cats Head to Maine With Three Game Skid
Fresh off three disappointing losses the KUA Wildcats head to Maine today for a two game weekend road trip. Tonight at 7:00 KUA faces Kent's Hill School, tomorrow the 'Cats play Hebron at 1:00. KUA looks to recover from back-to-back-to-back poor performances against Brimmer, Exeter and Tilton respectively.
Congratulations to Brian Fabrizius who has accepted an offer of admission to Princeton University where he will play for Coach Sydney Johnson. Brian needs some time in the weight room but should eventually play a significant role in the Tigers fortunes. Our other four players in the class of '11 are also being recruited by a handful of schools and should be narrowing things down soon.
We are now 9-10 overall on the season, exactly where we were a year ago. Last season we won our last seven games to surge into the playoffs as the number five seed. A similar run will need to take place to for a playoff invite to occur.
With seven games remaining we have three home and four away and we also have some practice time---so we could possibly have the time needed to improve and peak. I am all for peaking as right now we don't do anything particularly well. We are "ok" at many things but great at nothing---this is not good enough in our league.READ THIS BOOK: "HOW LUCKY CAN YOU BE" THE STORY OF COACH DON MEYER...THIS STORY PUTS IT ALL IN PERSPECTIVE.
Go 'Cats!Thursday / February 3 / 2011
Second Half Rally Carries 'Cats
Not to be denied in the Putnam Science rematch KUA came alive today in the second half to rally to a 63-57 win. The hard fought victory avenges a 64-60 loss to PSA last Friday. Ryan Daye paced a balanced attack with 18 points, Waylan Siverand continued his improved play with 14 points, Danny Brooks also chipped in 14 points and Jonny Bunyan hit two big three's down the stretch to finish with 10. Rick Naylor had all 8 of his points in the first half when points were hard to come by for KUA.
Smooth 6-4 guard Desmond Williams had 19 points for PSA but had to work for them against KUA's sticky man-to-man defense. Brooks drew the assignment and made Williams work hard for any open looks. Williams, like he did in Putnam, CT, hit big shots late. His 30 foot bomb drew PSA within two points with one minute remaining. Daye, Brooks and Bunyan would go a combined 6-6 at the line to keep KUA ahead.
KUA trailed 26-21 in a slow paced first half. Pressing full court, getting the running game going and cracking the PSA zone, all helped the 'Cats put 42 points on the board the second half. Daye's long trifecta gave KUA their first lead with 9:00 remaining.
KUA takes to the road in a brutal stretch beginning Saturday at Brimmer. Games at Exeter Monday and Tilton Wednesday follow. A long bus ride to Maine to face Kents Hill and Hebron follow. Then we finish the brutal stretch at Proctor on Wednesday. To those counting at home that is six road games in 12 days. We seem to play pretty well away from home so it's not so much where we play BUT HOW WE PLAY.
KUA goes to 9-7 on the season with 10 games remaining in NEPSAC Class AA. We finish up with three out of four at the 'Cat House. In order to be eligible for the playoffs a team must have at least a .500 record. Then it becomes overall record, head to head, etc. So the first order of business is to go grab some road victories and try to stay over that Mason-Dixon line!
Tuesday / February 1 / 2011
Welcome to February, PSA Act II
'Cats are preparing for the rematch against Putnam Science Academy set for 4:30 Thursday. PSA was going to take a northern New England Holiday tour and play Tilton, Proctor and KUA this week but with the snow storm it appears they will only face the 'Cats. So shovel out and get to thge Cat House for the game, it will be a dandy.
Recruiting is going pretty well for our seniors. Ryan Daye, Jonny Bunyan, Danny Brooks, Waylan Siverand and Brian Fabrizius are all getting attention from varying levels---and they should be as they are young men of character and ability.
I had to have a "mini-bird" today as the pace of our practice was not where it should have been. Sometimes guys get in their comfort zones and just kind of float along. NOT GOOD ENOUGH. It is very important to keep pushing, every day, every drill, every possession. We have a great stretch of games with PSA Thursday, Brimmer and May Saturday, Exeter on Monday and one of the nations top teams, Tilton, on Wednesday. No time for a lackluster pace at practice.Saturday / January 29 / 2012
Good Effort Falls Short at Putnam Science
Putnam Science Academy is new on the scene. The school is only 10 years old and is just now going through a final accredidation in hopes of joining NEPSAC Class AA next year. It is an all-boys school of 200 students---who study math and science rigorously. The school essentially seems to enroll Turkish students and high level basketball players. In an absolutely incredible environment---think European soccer---PSA prevailed over KUA 64-60 Friday night. High Division I guard Desmond Williams broke free in the second half and finished with 20 points to lead PSA. Danny Brooks (18) points and Ryan Daye (17) paced the 'Cats. Scot Jonny Bunyan again impressed with floor awareness and four trey's (12 points). KUA trailed 62-60 following a Brooks triple and immediately called their final time-out with 11 seconds remaining to set up their press. The ball came loose twice and we just weren't in the right spot to grab it. We had told the kids to shoot the three and lets go home---if we stole the ball. But it bounced the other way for a game ending dunk. Our kids played very hard and were within a possession or two on the road. Too many turnovers early in the second half proved problematic. PSA's quickness was a factor but it is critical to at least get a shot each possession. Half-time score was 25-24 PSA. Good ball game and we get them again at the 'Cat House Thursday afternoon at 4:30. For a very entertaining game---tune in live or streaming video. KUA falls to 8-7 heading to February....Thursday / January 27 / 2011
Tale of Two Halves
KUA jumped out to a 29-16 halftime versus a strong Holderness team last night. Solid team defense and a patient offense had the tempo where it was needed. Holderness picked up the defensive pressure in the second half and rallied for a 68-60 victory. Giving up 52 points in 16 minutes might initially appear to be a mis-print, but its not. They caught fire hitting 8-13 three point attempts in the half and we quit defending---a dangerous combination.
And so it goes, back to the drawing board today with one day to put the game behind us and ready ourselves for a difficult road test at Putnam Science Academy Friday night at 7:00. 'Cats fall to 8-6 and will face athletic team tomorrow. PSA is paced by 6-4 wing Desmond Williams who is averaging 24 points per game and drawing loads of DI attention. Saturday / January 23 / 2011
Tempo Key as 'Cats Rally for Win
Falling behind 14-3 on the road is generally not a recipe for success but KUA reclaimed the tempo after a slow start and pulled away late for a decisive 60-43 road win versus Class AA rival The Master's School. It was all Master's early as three of their first seven field goals were dunks but KUA settled down and played a patient half to go into the break ahead 27-24. Up 37-31 KUA steadily pulled ahead paced by two dunks from Waylan Siverand, two nifty lay-ins by Brian Fabrizius and a 25' dagger from Jonny Bunyan. The 'Cats stetched the lead to 20 points with 2:00 remaining. From the 12:00 mark of the first half to the final buzzer KUA out-scored Master's 57-29 in perhaps their best ball of the season. Fabrizius and Dan Brooks paced a balanced attack with 12 points each while Bunyan, Rick Naylor and Ryan Daye each chipped in nine. Fabrizius pulled down 13 rebounds in his best outing. The 'Cats hit on 21-34 field goal attempts. We played with discipline and patience. Brooks was very good against their zone with his inside ballhandling and the guards overall handled Master's quickness. Brian was a big factor---in addition to blocking four shots he altered several more and he controlled the glass. This performance comes on the heels of two weeks of practice. Our achilles heel remains the fact that we more-often-than-not start slow---that will need to change as we prepare to play Holderness and Putnam Science next week....
Go 'Cats and Go Packers!!Friday / January 22 / 2011
We have spent the week working on defensive transition and offensive fundamentals. We have been very mediocre getting back on defense and Master's is well known for their team speed. That should be the key to the game---if we control the tempo we will have a solid chance to pick up a NEPSAC Class AA road win. (Wednesday's game versus Exeter---cancelled because of slippery roads---will likely be rescheduled for Feb 7). The cancellation meant that we will have only played two games since the winter break---and we've been at it for 16 days now. I hope this becomes advantageous because we have had some practice time, a rarity in prep school hoops. I see marked improvement in the practice habits of many of the kids--in particular Waylan Siverand and Rick Naylor---they keep getting better. Master's is small and fast and it should be a great game. Go 'Cats! (,,,and go Packers Sunday!!!!!).Saturday / January 15 / 2011
Bunyan Buries Free Throws, 'Cats Rally for Big Win
Jonny Bunyan has been in a lot of close games as captain of the Scottish National Team for his age group. His experience and toughness were on display today as Bunyan stepped to the line with two seconds to go in a tie game. Shooting a one-and-one, Jonny swished a pair and KUA squeeked out a 60-58 victory. In a back and forth game, Cushing spurted out to leads of 18-4 and 20-8 lead early. KUA fought back to within three at the half 29-26. The 'Cats would control the first several minutes of the second half a carve a 48-41 lead with 8 minutes remaining. Cushing answered with a 10-0 run to regain the lead. A nip and tuck final stanza saw each team nail big shots and get key stops. KUA missed an opportunity to take a three point lead with 28 seconds remaining when guard Rick Naylor had a shot rim out. CA ran the clock down to under 10 seconds remaining and countered with a three ball of their own, Bunyan came out of the rebound scrum on the fly and was fouled as he drove the left wing. He calmly sank both shots as the 'Cats go to 7-5 on the season. Cushing is also 7-5. Both teams play in NEPSAC Class AA so this proves to be an important victory.
Very impressive today was the play of sophomore guard Devon Thomas, Silver Spring, Maryland. His speed and energy were game changers---not sure we would have won without him. 6-11 Brian Fabrizius was up-and-down today but sure gave it everything he had. Going against good posts he fought inside and blocked or altered at least 6-8 shots. He also hit some timely baskets and rebounded well. With little depth Brian was forced to play the entire game and he was gassed! But a hard fought win and now we take a day off and then prepare for Phillips Exeter Wednesday.
Naylor paced a balanced attack with 11 points and Danny Brooks added nine. Fabrizius, Thomas, Ryan Daye, Waylan Siverand and Bunyan each chipped in eight.Friday / January 14 / 2011
'Cats Prepare for Cushing
It won't get any easier as KUA hosts strong Class AA rival Cushing Academy tomorrow with tip-off slated for 1:30. CA is lead by 6-7 James Kennedy, a Boston University signee and a very athletic forward. Cushing has a veteran team that has gotten off to a 7-4 start against excellent competition. They are tested and rested and will be a great challenge. We have had the luxury of practicing each day this week. A fluke bye Wednesday gave us some much needed practice time and we are hopeful we have made progress from a defensive and offensive execution standpoint. As my friend Dale Platek likes to say, "one man with courage makes a majority." We will need 12 men with courage to defeat Cushing!
You can watch live by accessing http://www.kua.org/kuagameslive
Hope to see you at the 'Cat-House at 1:30!!
UPDATE'Cats Fall 82-76
Marianapolis shot out to a 14 point half time lead and kept the pressure on throughout the second half to secure a 82-76 victory. Marianapolis improves to 8-3 and KUA falls to 6-5. This was a highly charged Class AA NEPSAC game which saw the 'Cats rally late behind Rick Naylor and Waylan Siverand who notched season highs of 17 and 18 points respectively. Ryan Daye added 18 points also before fouling out. Brian Fabrizius chipped in 10 points and Dan Brooks had 8 points. Marianapolis was red hot in the first half paced by their outstanding back court. We tried to slow them down but they played so comfortably on the offensive end---veteran, skilled players.
This is such a tough opponent following a 19 day layoff. MP played their third game of the week. We will regroup now and practice five times this week in preparation for a strong Cushing Academy team next Saturday at home.Saturday / 1 / 8 / 2011
Happy New Year! Here We Go---Marianapolis Prep to the Cat House at 3:00
Well school breaks can be both too long and too short. As a team we had 19 days off for the Holiday's and returned last Wednesday to begin preparations for todays matinee versus a strong Marianapolis Prep team. I've said before that prep school basketball---at a school like KUA---really has two seasons, pre-Christmas and post-New Year. Jamming 10 games into 19 days before the break and now we play 16 regular season games over the next seven weeks.
Our team returned healthy and energized and we have had five workouts to prepare for today's game. Marianapolis returned to action earlier than us and has already played two games. This will be a factor and we will have to play great to be within striking distance. A big challenge for sure as MP is deep, athletic and talented. Glad to be at home and glad to be back in action! Saturday / 12 / 18 / 2010
Second Half Spurt Propels 'Cats to Consolation Championship
Leading 32-26 at the half, the Wildcats opened the second half with a quick 9-0 run to open a comfortable lead and coasted to a 74-59 win over Westminster School in the consolation championship of the Loomis-Chaffee Holiday Tournament. Ryan Daye exploded for 26 points in front of parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and high school friends! Rick Naylor stroked four consecutive three point baskets in the second half and Jonny Bunyan added two more trifectas---along with two from Daye the 'Cats had eight three point baskets in the final 16 minutes. Bunyan had a hot hand throughout the tourney, ending with 10 three's, Waylan Siverand, Dan Brooks and Brian Fabrizius also played well throughout.
We sure looked banged up following the game. Playing four days in a row is not easy at any level. But back-to-back strong showings was a great way to end the pre-holiday schedule as we moved to 6-4 on the season.
Congratulations to Brad Kimball and Ian Gregory-Davis who logged their first varsity points during the week.
'Cats are off until January 5th when they return to the court in preparation for a Jan 8 tip versus Marianapolis Prep.
'Cats Pound Gunnery in Loomis Tournament
Looking once again like our former selves we shared the ball, defended, and ran the court today in a dismantling of The Gunnery School. Ryan Daye sparked us early (15 points), Brian Fabrizius knocked down three triples, Jonny Bunyan was 4-6 from the arc in the first half and Waylan Siverand contibuted 10 points. A 12-0 run to open the second half proved to much for Gunnery to overcome. KUA lead 33-19 at the half and shut out GS for the first five minutes of the second half.
KUA, now 5-4 on the season plays Westminster tomorrow at 1:00 before breaking until Jan 5 for the Holidays.
GREAT NEWS FOR JESSE CHUKU---HE HAS BEEN GIVEN THE GO AHEAD TO BEGIN WORKING OUT AFTER THE BREAK. HE IS ON THE MEND! Our plan is to slowly bring him along the rest of the way and, after consulting the NCAA, we will invite him to repeat his year at KUA next school year.
Big game tomorrow---chance to build some momentum heading into holidays.
Thursday / December 16 / 2010
Third Consecutive Loss Leads to Consolation Bracket
This one really hurt. Tournament host Loomis-Chaffee hit one free throw with .7 seconds on the clock to defeat KUA 47-46 Wednesday afternoon. Close all the way, we had the ball with 18 seconds on the game clock and 9 seconds on the shot clock so we new we had time to get a good shot and play defense in the final seconds. We did neither well---not executing a final play and then allowing the LC guard to go full court to the hoop.
Jonny Bunyan hit four threes on the way to 12 points. Ryan Daye played with a painful elbow injury suffered the night before against Andover and did "ok" but he was not himself (left elbow, lefty shooter...). he finished with a team high 16 points. Waylan Siverand chipped in 10 points.
We are out-of-sorts right now and need to play as one. Basketball is so much more mental than physical. Players (and teams) need to blend together and care more about others than themselves---this is one of the tricky parts of prep school recruiting. For the most part the players who come have been to go-to guy at the previous school and they are asked to blend with other guys who are used to the same prior role. There is only one ball and it must be shared on offense and defended by five on defense. This is not a difficult concept on paper but can be elusive on the court.
4-4 on the season and we need a turnaround beginning today versus Gunnery at 4:00.
Wednesday / December 15 / 2010
Back to Back Poor Performances
We struggled mightily against a very good Andover team Tuesday. Down just eight at the break we failed to mount a rally. We did give a solid effort to come back but Andover had an answer every time we would get within striking distance. These things happen in a long season---many peaks and valleys. I must punch the right buttons and haven't been able to do that the past two games. As we head to Loomis today for a three day tournament we need to reenergize and refocus. We have great kids and they will bounce back.
Monday / December 13 / 2010
Crushed Saturday, Back to the Court Tomorrow
Following Saturday's 73-48 pasting at the hands of Vermont Academy the KUA Wildcats return to the hardwood Tuesday for a 3:30 tip-off against Phillips Andover Academy. I spoke earlier in the blog about the need for a team to whether times of adversity. This is a novel concept that, unfortunately we did not adhere to Saturday. Down 12 at the half it was still a workable deficit. But VA blitzed us with speed and long range shooting to break the game open. We were our worst enemy as we lost our fight.
Tuesday will be a great test as we anticipate the return to action. PA has one of their better teams in recent memory and this will be a strong test. 6-9 Thomas Pelleschi anchors the middle and they have an outstanding lead guard in Ray Barry. We need to return to fundamentals and team play. So we played .500 ball over the weekend, winning against Holderness and not being ready to go against VA.
We play in the Loomis Holiday Classic Wednesday (versus Loomis) and again Thursday and Friday. For those counting at home that is four games in four days. A great challenge but also a great opportunity to come together and get better as a team.
The only thing we've been consistent at is inconsistency. Let's hope we can find our groove heading into the holiday break. Go 'Cats!
Saturday / December 11 / 2010
On the Road Again...
Back in the bus shortly as we head to Vermont Academy for a 3:30 tip against a good, athletic team. Great win last night 56-49 in an old-fashioned slug fest. Holderness is a very big, experienced team. They start three front line players in the 6-8, 6-9 range. Each will play DI basketball. Our game plan was to double and triple team the posts on the catch. Our results were inconsistent but probably effective enough to impact the outcome of the game. The best part of the win was the way we had different players step up down the stretch. Jonny Bunyan had a big three with 3:00 remaining. Brian Fabrizius hit back to back threes to keep Holderness at bay. Dan Brooks and Rick Naylor hit big shots down the stretch. Ryan Daye had 17 points to lead the 'Cats and Waylan Siverand had 10 points and a solid overall game. Really good win as the "Cat House was rocking and the game was highly competitive. Tough bounce back today but if we control the tempo and play sound defensively we will have a chance to win.
Wednesday / December 8 / 2010
'Cats Roll, Up Record to 3-1
Not a thing of beauty but KUA wins today 55-43 over a young Proctor squad. KUA jumped all over Proctor in the first half and carried a 30-11 lead into the intermission. We pushed the lead to twenty-five midway through the second half and began subbing liberally. This was about the same time that Proctor heated up. Proctor hit nine three point baskets down the stretch and narrowed the final margin.
Ryan Daye and Waylan Siverand paced KUA scoring with 17 and 12 points respectively. Dan Brooks chipped in eight and Brian Fabrizius added seven. KUA hit just 7-18 free throw attempts for the game.
This was a case of losing focus with the big lead. Irritating, yes. Concerning? Not really. Do I want it to happen again? No! We will need to play better this weekend against Holderness Friday and Vermont Saturday. A season is a journey and there are bumps in the road. The second half was actually more of a large pot hole...
Sunday / December 5 / 2010
Bounce-back win for 'Cats
It was a quick turnaround for us---heading off to Deerfield Academy at noon for a 3:05 tip but we were alert and energetic enough to secure a 58-30 win. That capped a pretty long week. The players returned to campus last Saturday night following Thanksgiving break and practiced six times leading to Wednesdays opener in Cambridge, Mass. Practice Thursday, home opener Friday versus a huge, physical W & M squad. Classes Saturday morning and board the bus to Deerfield. Whew! Glad for a one day hiatus...
Ryan Daye continued his stellar play Saturday. He can score, he communicates, he is disruptive defensively because of his quickness. Jonny Bunyan responded from a sub-par Friday outing with a very efficient Saturday performance. Guard play is so incredibly critical to a teams ability to compete night in and night out. Face it---good, tough, smart guards can keep you in games, or, play you out of games.
We continue to mis-fire on too many shots. Friday, for instance we shot just 7-31 from the floor overall sans Dayes 10-17 performance. Not good enough.
Huge week with practices Monday and Tuesday and rivalry games against Proctor Wednesday, Holderness Friday and Vermont Saturday.
Congrats to freshmen Charlie Williams who took his first career charge Saturday and Adrian Callies who notched his first career hoop---as we told Adrian---only 998 more and we can have a celebration! (KUA alum Keith Callies, Adrians big brother, is playing at Union College).
We need to get better and with with three practices this week---and three games---that should happen. Go 'Cats!
Saturday / December 4 / 2010
KUA Drops Home Opener
Tough loss at the 'Cat House last night. We trailed for most of the game but made a spirited rally to close within one point at 44-43 with 2:45 remaining. We had two solid opportunities to take the lead but didn't execute a 2-1 play and later missed an open 15' shot. Wilbraham hit two 3 point daggers on their next two possessions to grab a 50-43 lead at 1:45 and our rally was in the rear view mirror. Ryan Daye was a one man wrecking crew with 26 points while sophomore guard Devon Thomas gave a great spark off the bench. We shot poorly and that was a defining factor. Tough to win when you can only score 18 points through the first 19 minutes of the game.
I have stated that we will be perimeter oriented. That said we need to be sound, smart and efficient from the guard positions---which essentially means all five guards in the rotation must bring their "A" game to the court.
W & M is really big and deep and they pounded on us. From a coaching perspective I had company on my way home last night. I travelled Interstate 89 N with three time-outs
I failed to use during the game. Absolutely inexcusable from a coaching perspective. It's not like I don't know better!
But today is a new day and we leave for Deerfield Academy shortly. They will be rested and ready---Back to fundamentals: value the ball, communicate, be tough minded.
Thursday / December 2 / 2010
The trip to Cambridge was successful as we won our first contest of the year, defeating B,B&N 58-41. Good balance as Waylan Siverand pounded the rim for 13 points, Dan Brooks hit 11, Jonny Bunyan scored 10 in his US debut, Rick Naylor hit three long range shots for nine points and Brian Fabrizius and Ryan Daye each chipped in 8.
B,B&N sat in a 3-2 zone throughout the game, and much like last years contest, we obligingly decided to settle for three point shots. Though we connected on 10 three point field goals we will need to do a better job breaking down zone defenses. Our help side defense was relatively non-existent as well.
We had been so good in the practice leading up to the game...let's just say "there was some game slippage." The first game is always a bit of a mystery with a new team. Hopefully we got some jitters out of the way!
A strong Wilbraham team comes to the 'Cat House for a 6:00pm tip-off Friday. They have front court players already committed to UCONN and DePaul. We will have our hands full and must improve in all areas for game #2.
Tuesday / November 30 / 2010
'CATS OPEN SEASON AT B,B & N
Let the games begin! KUA travels to Boston tomorrow for a 3:30 matinee against Buckingham, Browne and Nichols School. The Wildcats will look to avenge a season opening loss one year ago to B, B &N. After just 10 practices it is "game on" for KUA, we will play 10 games over the next 17 days. While depth may be a limiting factor, work ethic and spirit will not be. I have been impressed with our groups willingness to listen, absorb and work. We will open the season minus our outstanding power forward Jesse Chuku, who remains hospitalized with an infection. 6-11 Brian Fabrizius and 6-7 Waylan Siverand will have to take up the slack. We will rotate five guards and I would expect us to be perimeter oriented as we go through the next few weeks. I look for Ryan Daye and Devon Thomas to be solid at lead guard---both are very fast---and Jonny Bunyan, Rick Naylor and Dan Brooks will man the wings. Bunyan is a combo guard who has been very solid in preseason while Naylor has fought off a football injury and been very efficient.
17 treams make up the newly formed Class AA. Just the top eight will participate in the NEPSAC playoffs in March. We certainly have our work cut out for us but I wouldn't rule this group out. We will work to be good together---which is the KUA Way!
Friday / November 18 / 2010
WILDCATS OPEN PRACTICE FOR 2011-2012 SEASON
Double sessions today as the KUA Wildcats open practice for the upcoming season. So far, so good as the post graduates and youngsters begin the process of meshing into a tight-knit family. It is always interesting to bring such divergent hopefuls into this setting and begin developing the culture and climate necessary for success.
You know what they say about the "best laid plans." Our outstanding student-athlete Jesse Chuku is out indefinitely with a serious virus. He remains hospitalized and our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family for a speedy recovery. Jesse was recently named one of the top 5 players in his age group in the UK. Jesse, a London native, played last year for Barking Abbey Academy. He is being recruited by a host of Division I schools.
In Jesse's absence we will lean more heavily on 6-10 Brian Fabrizius and 6-7 Waylan Siverand. Both are perimeter oriented so we lack a true post presence for now. This will be ok as we will tweak our motion offense to fit our skill set. We should get strong guard play from Ryan Daye, Jonny Bunyan, Dan Brooks and Devon Thomas.
Our top returning player, Rick Naylor, is out as a result of a football injury. His status is unknown as he heads for an MRI tonight.
Suddenly a deep team is now a little thin from a depth stand point. As always, we will work on defense, fundamentals and team play with a goal of having the whole be greater than the sum of its parts.
We will practice tomorrow morning and then break for Thanksgiving. Our guys just finished trimester exams and are more-than-ready for some down time---not quite yet though!
Friday / October 22 / 2010
Homecoming weekend on the Hilltop. Should be a beautiful, crisp day for our Wildcat teams in action. This marks the end of the seventh week of preseason basketball. Three more weeks to trimester exams and the beginning of practice. No doubt our December 1st opener at B,B and N will come quickly. (Last year it came too quickly as we were clearly not ready to play after just a handful of practices). My hope is this group will be more prepared physically and mentally. I'll also know what to expect. With just five full-squad practices it is important to focus on the things you can control.
Preseason pickup ball is not easy. You pretty much guard the same guy every night and there is no offensive or defensive system to lean on. Some kids understand spacing, timing, playing to strengths and minimizing weaknesses. Other kids...
Kit Creegar, KUA Communications Department, created our new banner---see above---thank you Kit for all you do to help promote our program!
New "Cat Chat" coming soon to preview the season. Go 'Cats!
Friday / September 24 / 2010
Today marks the end of the second week of school at KUA. Hot again---near 85 degrees---NEPSAC rules prevent me from direct facilitation of practice but I have observed most of the open gyms and feel good about the group we have assembled. Several college coaches from all levels have been in attendance, making the out-of-the-way trek to Meriden. WARNING: Do not rely on your GPS when visiting our school! One college coach, unfamiliar with the area, arrived at his "destination" in the middle of a very dark, remote forest near Cardigan Mountain---45 minutes away!
Six of our students are engaged in strength and conditioning as their fall activity---and they are being pushed. As you might imagine shooting is a bit difficult following weight lifting but the routine is vital to a players development.
We are finishing our 2010-2011 schedule. Opening game will be at Buckingham, Browne and Nichols on Dec 1. Stay tuned....
Faculty Meetings Begin New Year
Is it not this way every year? Just when all the school kids put on their new school clothes and grab their new book bag...the weather heats up. Nearly 100 degrees today in the Upper Valley. Still, it is an exciting time as our faculty returns, the new staff is introduced, international student arrivals are planned for the next couple of days and our soccer and football teams begin preparations for the new year.
Our basketball team will welcome eight new players to campus. Jonny Bunyan and Jesse Chuku make the long flight from the UK, Waylan Siverand travels north from Texas along with Ryan Daye, who is from Elon, North Carolina. Brian Fabrizius comes from the Windy City---Chicago, and Dan Brooks from Boston. Two re-classified freshmen will also be in the mix along with sophomore Devin Thomas from Silver Springs. MD. Lettermen Tarik Octave and Rick Naylor will look to shine following their stints on the gridiron.
I really like our group and know they will be willing. The strength of the NEPSAC continues to impress---the rich get richer and the rest of us hope team play and toughness will equate to success.
April 22 / 2010
I'm back after a one week hiatus. It has been a busy month with recruiting, spring break, etc. I had a chance to travel to London, England and Edinburgh, Scotland on a joint recruiting trip / vacation. Got to see my son Erik play in the Scottish Cup championship. Not to brag but he had 30 points and was named MVP as he helped lead his Falkirk Fury to their first Cup title. He is now training and trying out for his next pro basketball gig---having relocated to Germany a couple weeks ago. I am hoping to add 2-3 Brits to the KUA roster---stay tuned!
April 15 / 2010
Congratulations to our fine student-athlete Keith Callies, who has been accepted to Union College. What a great fit for a deserving young man. Keith is a great defender and a sound offensive player. He is efficient---he will have an outstanding career and be a great ambassador for our program.
Much discussion in NEPSAC about reorganization of divisions. Watch for the 'big boys' to form an elite division. Many top programs will move to an open division and there will be enrollment driven classes of four, or perhaps five divisions. Where this leads is anybody's guess. My concern is this becomes driven chiefly by financial aid. So much easier to give big awards at schools that do not have football and/or hockey. At KUA we have to spread financial aid around and there is not that much to begin with! Much like big-time college athletics---the rich will get richer and the rest of us will have to galvanize our resources and make do best we can.
Thursday / March 4 / 2010
Disappointing End to Season in NEPSAC Quarterfinals
A fourth consecutive long away trip and an athletic, talented Hotchkiss proved too much for the Wildcats last night as KUA dropped a 77-56 decision in the New England Class B tournament. KUA jumped out to a 17-10 lead midway through the first half but crumbled under full court pressure the final five minutes of the first half. Down 37-27 at half KUA still trailed by 10 with 3:00 remaining. Turnovers down the stretch would dash any hopes of a rally. Din Moore hit for 23 points and Carlos Toussaint chipped in 15. Georgia Tech-bound Derrick Morris lead Hotchkiss with 21 points.
A quick look at NEPSAC action last night saw all higher seeds win---in every class, to include A, B, C, and Western New England. Not one upset. This shows great seeding and top teams taking care of business.
KUA ends its season with a 17-10 record. The Wildcats won 10 of their last 12 games and, heading into last night's quarterfinal game, had yielded just 47 points a game over that span. We did not bring our "A" game to the court last night, particularly on the defensive end. We also turned the ball over 20+ times---a bad combination against an explosive opponent.
Whats next: RECRUIT, RECRUIT, RECRUIT!
Saturday / February 27 / 2010
Two More Wins for 'Cats
The 'Cats followed Friday's exhilarating win with a 77-44 romp over Williston today. Din Moore lead the "Cats in scoring with 21 points today after posting 20 Friday. Les Smith was the hero Friday. His runner in the lane with 5 seconds remaining was the difference. The victories this weekend propel KUA into the NEPSAC Class B tournament beginning Wednesday. Wildcats will face # 4 seed Hotchkiss.
Carlos Toussaint netted 16 points Saturday and spurred a late rally against Cushing with hustle plays and mid-range jump shots. 6-5 Connecticut football recruit Gus Cruz has been steady inside. His defense and rebounding have been key to our winning 10 of the last 11 games.
Friday's 57-55 win was the best effort of the year. Down six at the half KUA controlled much of the second half. Grant White hit a late three point shot to give KUA the lead.
'Cats go to 17-9 on the year and 12-5 in Class B. Over the past 11 games the Wildcats are only allowing 47 points per game. Wednesdays tip is set for 3:00 at Williston Northhampton.
Thursday / February 25 / 2010
'Cats Prepare for Cushing
Practice is on the horizon today as we prepare for an excellent opponent in Cushing Academy. They are very athletic and one of the premier rebounding teams in New England. We are head-to-head with CA in the race for a top seed in next weeks playoff. The winner tomorrow could likely secure a #4 seed. The loser may fall to #6 and meet powerful Marianapolis. Lot's at stake.
We will be short-handed from here on out as Keith Callies is shelved with a broken thumb and swollen face. He was playing great and was particulary shining on the defensive end. Grant White will move back into the starting lineup. He was playing very well earlier in the season before being slowed considerably with knee tendinitis. He has been feeling better and will have to now step-up with his increased role.
Winners of 8 of 9, KUA is 15-9 overall and 10-5 in Class B action. 'Cats travel to Williston-Northampton Saturday to wrap up the regular season.
KUA Defeats B&M 59-56
'Cat travelled to Brimmer and came away with a tough victory. The win was the eighth in nine games for KUA. Din Moore was red-hot---going for 26 points on the day, with 17 in the first half. Carlos Toussaint was superb with 13 points and five assists. Keith Callies played his usual stellar ddefense and chipped in 12 points. Big win on the road.
Friday / 2 / 19 / 2010
This and That...
Practice today at 2:30 in preparation for our Class B game at Brimmer and May tomorrow. B&M is currently seeded 8th and we are 7th. They are quite good with enough athleticism and scoring punch to be dangerous against anyone in Class B. They will look to avenge a hard-fought victory for KUA just two weeks ago.
Winners of seven of our last eight games, we are allowing just 46 points per game during that stretch.
Lafayette-bound Les Smith is our leading scorer averaging 12.6 points, Din Moore scores 11.8, Carlos Toussaint chips in 9.0 and Keith Callies adds 8.5. The balance of this four guard line-up has paid dividends.
"Cats ended the home portion of their schedule with an 8-2 record.
Wednesday / 2 / 17 / 2010
Big Win for Wildcats Over Proctor
KUA took on rival Proctor today and came away with a 68-57 victory. 'Cats trailed at the half 32-30 before dominating the second half, outscoring PA 38-25. Leslie Smith hit five three point field goals on his way to a team high 24 points. Keith Callies scored 15 and Carlos Toussaint chipped in 14 points. With the win KUA moves to 14-9 overall and likely secures a Class B playoff slot. The victory was KUA's seventh in the last eight games.
I really like the look of our team since we moved to a four guard lineup. We certainly give up length and bulk inside but have more ball-handling and better shooting. Carlos made two excellent fast break passes, Keith shut down PA's fine guard Bartolus, Leslie ran the team well and Din Moore is a tough match-up for a post player. The lineup gives us some nice flexibility. Gus Cruz was active inside and Pascal Mensah had his usual array of charges, steals, blocked shots, rebounds, etc.
I am particularly excited to have two practice times before our big game at Brimmer Saturday. Next week we have three consecutive practice days before we play strong Cushing. Young players may not admit it---but practice is important! I've felt all along we could become a good team in February and we are getting closer.
College coaches from Union, Brandeis, AIC, among others, were in the 'Cat Dome today. Several KUA students and faculty turned out as well as we celebrated Coaches vs. Cancer, Race for the Cure. Thank you to all who came out and to Coach Williams for organizing this great event.
Saturday / 2 / 13 / 2010
UPDATE: 'Cats Dominate Hebron
Playing 18 hours after pasting Kents Hill the KUA Wildcats cruised to another Class B victory, this time over Hebron Academy. Carlos Toussaint paced a balanced attack with 21 points for KUA. The Wildcats jumped out to a 36-14 half-time lead and never looked back. A solid second half of team defense enabled the 'Cats to build their lead to a final of 69-37. Keith Callies rested a sore foot and his availability for next weeks key games is questionable. KUA hosts Proctor Wednesday (2:00 tip) and travels to Brimmer and May Saturday. Both games have playoff implications. KUA moves to 13-9 on the season, including 8-5 in NEPSAC Class B.
One Down, One to Go
A solid second half defensive effort allowed KUA to put away Kents Hill last night. 'Cats lead 41-29 at half-time and held KH to just 13 second half points in downing the visitors from Maine, 64-42. KUA takes to the court at 1:30 today against Hebron School in another NEPSAC Class B game.
We were lackadaisical in our approach to last nights game. It is a long season and it is sometimes easy to lose your edge. We started a make shift lineup---featuring Grant White, Gus Cruz, Akeem Labitue, Leslie Smith and Rick Naylor. These were the five players who were punctual in there arrival to the gym. This move was not done to discipline anyone. It is simply a life lesson. Nothing of substance is ever accomplished by being lackadaisical. We also were slightly indifferent to defending in the first half. I was very pleased with the second half effort. Keith Callies and Cruz were sparks defensively and on the glass.
Today is a new day with a new challenge. It is important to be who we are. We can become a good defensive team who shares the ball offensively. This is a fun way to play, it is also time tested. Great defense combined with unselfish offense is generally a winning formula.
'Cats go to 12-9 overall and 7-5 in Class B. Still much work to do to solidify a play-off berth. see you at the 'Cat Dome or on-line later today!
Thursday / 2 / 11 /2010
Four Game Win Streak Snapped
KUA traveled to Class B #1 Tilton School last night and fell just short dropping a hard-fought 60-51 decision. We controlled the pace early and had leads of 9-3 and 18-16 only to have Tilton spurt just before halftime a forge a 33-23 lead. Five quick points from Din Moore to open the half pulled the 'Cats to 33-28 with 14:00 minutes remaining. Down 52-47 with 3:00 remaining we went to the free throw line for two shots---and plenty of momentum, but missed both shots and Tilton answered with a 3 point shot to go up eight.
We fixed one problem over the past couple weeks---defensive transition. We allowed few fast break points to Tilton. Providence-bound Gerald Coleman was limited in his fast break opportunities and held in check most of the night by Keith Callies and Pascal Mensah. But other old problems surfaced again, namely rebounding and becoming dribble-happy.
The top 3 Class B teams appear to be Tilton, Marianapolis, and St. Andrews. Six or seven others are in the mix for one of eight playoff berths. We are currently rated as the #7 team. With three home games and three away games remaining we still have work to do. We are currently 11-9 overall and 6-4 in Class B.
Din Moore and Leslie Smith lead the team in scoring averaging 12.4 and 12.2 points respectively. Carlos Toussaint chips in 8.4 points per game.
'Cats host Kents Hill and Hebron this weekend in key Class B action. See you at the 'Cat Dome or online!
Saturday / 2 / 6 / 2010
Defense Key as 'Cats Win Fourth Straight
Holding explosive Brimmer and May to just 17 first half points proved crucial as KUA defeated B&M in a key Class B tilt today. Point guard Leslie Smith continued his hot stretch with 21 points and excellent defense, Keith Callies chipped in 12 points and held three point specialist Derek Retos to just 8 points, Gus Cruz worked the glass for three put-backs---all in all a solid performance.
Some of our sore spots surfaced in the second half as Brimmer chipped away at the 16 point half-time deficit. We briefly quit rebounding and were beat down the floor three or four times. As we move through February we have to eliminate these breakdowns. We did handle pressure well as Carlos Toussaint and Les continuously moved the ball ahead to open teammates.
Each week seems to get bigger and bigger. We travel to #1 Tilton on Wednesday and then host Hebron and Kents Hill this weekend in three NEPSAC Class B games. We are firmly in the playoff hunt and need to seize the opportunity. Go 'Cats!
Thursday / 2 / 4 / 2010
Wildcats Blitz Vermont for Third Straight Victory
KUA travelled to Saxons River last night and defeated Vermont academy 80-35. Carlos Toussaint lead four players in double figures with 17 points. Din Moore added 13, Les Smith had 12 and Keith Callies chipped in with 11. We shot the ball well against the VA zone finishing with 15 three point field goals.
Can basketball success be easily predicated on two things---making shots and getting stops? If a teams offensive identity is to pass and catch the ball well, share the ball, select high percentage shots, and have enough "basket-makers" to finish shots...then it stands to reason your points per possession will be high. Conversely--- defensive transition, effective guarding of the dribbler, helping and recovering, challenging all shots, and rebounding misses---your team defense must limit offensive efficiency to a point where it is difficult to score against you consistently. Good basketball is not rocket science, it is very simple and sound in nature. Many coaches and players take a simple game and make it difficult.
The above mentioned theory will be tested Saturday afternoon at the 'Cat-Dome. We host Brimmer and May in a crucial Class B game. They are fast and can score in droves. Their shooting guard, Derek Retos, is as fine a shooter as we'll see all year. We are now 10-8 on the season and need to keep winning as we head toward the New England play-offs.
Special congratulations to Akeem Labitue and Pascal Mensah. Akeem will attend Trinity and play football while Pascal will attend Harvard and play soccer!
Saturday / 1 / 30 / 2010
Back to Back Wins: 'Cats Over Brooks 59-47
KUA Wildcats pulled away today for a hard fought 12 point victory over scrappy Brooks in North Andover, Mass. We jumped out to an early 20-9 lead only to have Brooks fight back to pull within 27-24 at the half. An early three point basket in the second half tied it at 27-all. Timely passing, hustle, and balanced scoring allowed KUA to gradually pull away.
The flu had gone through our team this week, Gus Cruz was at UConn for his official football visit, and a couple guys are banged up---it doesn't come easy. We shared the ball better today but were often lackluster in our transition defense! Go figure...
Eight teams make the Class B tourney at the end of February. There are 14 teams vying for one of these 8 spots. Nine or ten teams are realistically in the running, including the 'Cats. We are now 9-8 overall and play at Vermont Academy Wednesday and host Brimmer and May Saturday. These are crucial Class B games.
Wednesday / 1 / 27 / 2010
Tough Victory for Wildcats
Leslie Smith, Carlos Toussaint and Din Moore hit big shots down the stretch to lead KUA to an overtime victory against Holderness. Trailing most of the way, KUA tied the game with a 20' bomb from Moore. A tough defensive stand in the closing seconds lead to a fast break layup for the 'Cats in the final seconds. As the buzzer sounded the layup rolled off the rim!
Keith Callies and Gus Cruz hit free throws in the overtime propelling KUA to a hard-fought victory.
We weren't great tonight but we were gritty. We were on the verge of defeat---down six with 3:00 remaining---and found a way to win. Our team made big plays and showed great spirit!
At 8-8 we now get to practice for two days! Hooray!! We need it! Good things are coming down the road---this was a much needed victory.
'Cats travel to scrappy Brooks School on Saturday. Tip-off is slated for 1:00.
Alex Francis, one of the more electric players in our region, comes to the 'Cat Dome for a 5:00 tip-off today. He is surrounded by quality players and this is another tough NEPSAC test. We played better Monday in a hard fought loss at Proctor and had a good day of preparation yesterday. We are making some gains on the injury front which helps our cause.
There are many factors which cause teams to lose. Simply put, a team must not give up transition baskets and/or second shots. On offense it is important to protect the ball. This is a simple formula but is time tested across all levels of basketball. Great defensive transition teams, strong rebounding teams, and teams which don't turn the ball over, many times are able to avoid defeat. We have been lacking in each of these areas lately which has had a direct impact on our success, or lack thereof.
Keith Callies and Carlos Toussaint shot the ball well Monday and that really helps us. If they can get hot this next month we could become a difficult out for most teams. We need more ball security from point guard Leslie Smith and we need everyone to buy in to competing on the glass.
Big game today---we need a victory.
Monday / 1 / 24 / 2010
Back to Work
Ready or not...we head back to the court today at Proctor Academy. They are very big and strong inside and have experienced guards. They are a quality Class B opponent and will certainly test our mettle. After our disastrous weekend---blowout losses to Brewster and St. Andrews, we held a light shoot and team meeting yesterday to ready ourselves for today's game. No real practice/preparation and a slew of injuries will make for a difficult challenge. A basketball season is a long journey with peaks and valleys. Much of the time winning and losing is a product of when you play somebody. If you are healthy, rested, and prepared you stand a much greater chance of coming out on top. The true test of good teams is how they perform when things are off kilter. My team is beat up and currently lacking in confidence---but I will ask them to play together, play hard and play with spirit. If we accomplish these objectives we will be able to feel good about our effort and look forward to our next game Wednesday at home versus Holderness.
Friday / 1 / 22 / 2010
Brewster Overwhelms Wildcats
A full house at the Cat Dome was not enough to help the onslaught as Brewster Academy pasted KUA 92-54 today. Memphis-bound Will Barton was a one-man wrecking crew as he hit from all areas of the court on his way to 31 points. With players heading to Rutgers, Iowa State, and Syracuse as his running mates it was difficult to focus on just Barton. Simply put, they are big, fast and very, very talented. They are also disciplined and well-coached by Jason Smith.
BA jumped out to a 13-2 lead early and never looked back. Din Moore continued his scoring stretch by leading the KUA cause with 13 points, including three treys. Gus Cruz and Keith Callies chipped in 8 apiece. Pascal Mensah took four charges in a spirited performance.
I am not convinced we can take much from this game as we were too overwhelmed to really execute anything. One concern was a lack of defensive transition. That is just effort and we simply did not get back as well as needed.
KUA goes to 7-6 on the season and BA improves to 14-2. We head to St. Andrews tomorrow. They are 9-1 in NEPSAC action and 12-3 overall. They are very strong and it is a tough bounce back from tonight's shellacking. We need to hustle and be focused in defensively.
Thursday / 1 / 21 / 2010
Late Surge Lifts Exeter
Wildcats fell last night at Phillips Exeter 70-65. As PEA is a Class A team, the game was played with college rules, including a longer three point line and twenty minute halfs. A nip-and-tuck first half ended with PEA leading 36-34. KUA scored the first six points of the second half to take the lead. Exeter controlled the next several minutes and held a precarious 67-64 lead with 30 seconds remaining. Carlos Toussaint intercepted an errant pass with under 15 seconds left and had an open three point attempt rim out.
Din Moore and Leslie Smith combined for 39 points. Rick Naylor and Pascal Mensah played well off the bench. Toussaint was strong defensively but struggled from the floor hitting just 1-11 overall, including 0-8 from three point range.
Contrasting styles made for an interesting match-up. PEA, under former Dartmouth assistant Jay Tilton, runs a modified Princeton offense. We play a sagging man-to-man defense designed to eliminate dribble penetration and basket cuts.
KUA played without starting forward Grant White who is struggling with patellar tendinitis. He will be limited in the next few games---a critical stretch for us. Powerful Brewster comes to Meriden tomorrow, followed by a Saturday matinee at Class B power St. Andrew School. Proctor (Monday) and Holderness (Wednesday) round out the NBA-like travel and game schedule.
I feel our team is progressing. We still have much room for improvement but the proverbial light bulb seems to be coming on. We will need confidence, leadership, and toughness in this next stretch.
Tip-off Friday is 4:30. Catch it live or on-line. Go 'Cats!!
Wednesday / 1 / 13 / 2010
Pressure Defense Leads to Win
KUA used their speed and athleticism to advantage today in defeating Phillips Andover Academy 58-46. Leslie Smith and Din Moore each scored 17 points. Pascal Mensah was a huge factor defensively and Rick Naylor hit a big three point shot down the stretch to aid the Wildcats. A low scoring first half ended with KUA ahead 20-16.
I am thinking the long holiday break is still a limiting factor. Though we hustled defensively we were careless with the ball. We have not played particularly well in either game since returning---we'd better make some progress soon with a murderer's row of opponents on tap.
'Cats go to 7-4 overall and travel to Class A Exeter next Wednesday.
Wednesday / 1 /13 / 2010
Another test today as Phillips Andover travels to Meriden for a 3:45 Class B battle. Close game the first time---KUA winning 57-51. I expect another tough game.
Dr. Adam Cox spoke to our faculty Monday. He is very insightful in the area of learning and teaching. He made a point of emphasis in communicating. "Speak the name of the person you are addressing, use eye contact, seek a verbal response." Sounds simple but try it---He also said collective responsibility leads to collective success. Three components of someone who cares: humility, humanity and authenticity. This is exceptional insight from a great educator.
Big matinee today----Go 'Cats!
Sunday / 1 / 10 / 2010
Falling Short at Marianapolis
Marianapolis Prep (Ct) was too strong Saturday and the 'Cats fell 56-46. In a game of spurts KUA trailed in the early going 10-3. A 17-0 run gave us a 20-10 lead. MP responded with a run of their own to knot the score at 26-all at half-time. With the score tied 43-43 and 6:00 remaining, MP went on a quick 5-0 spurt to seize control. I am disappointed we were unable to come away with the win but we had enough ability to stay close to one of the top 3 teams in NE Class B. This on the heels of a 21 day break. MP had an advantage by playing two games prior to our contest. No doubt fatigue was a factor. So too was their athleticism and our inability to compete on the glass. In a game that turned into a jumping contest on the glass, we lost out.
Looking forward to two solid practices Monday and Tuesday with an afternoon contest against Andover Wednesday. I am optimistic we will play well. Our kids are keen on being successful---they will come together (hopefully!).
So many things going on in the world of athletics. Bully football coaches like Leach and Mangino getting fired for verbally and/or emotionally abusing their players. (It would be nice---wouldn't it?---to get a mega-million dollar settlement for being fired! Dartmouth coach Terry Dunn---as far as I know an upstanding man---gets forced out midseason. The question I always have when these things occur is where are the administrators? Are their no checks and balances? Is there any mentoring going on? When coaches fail should the folks responsible for hiring them be held accountable? How 'bout slippery Bruce Pearl at Tennessee. He recruits guys who get arrested with drugs and guns. After much debate he suspends the players saying they do not uphold the values of the program and institution. H-E-L-L-O---is their anyone in charge here?
Bob Knight called out the lack of integrity in big-time athletics recently and he used former UMASS and Memphis coach John Calipari as an example. Every time Coach Cal leaves a program the school ends up on probation. I am uncertain whether the biggest problem is a lack of integrity---my thought is there is a lack of leadership emanating from those supposedly in charge. Shame on Tennessee---prostituting themselves for a few basketball victories.
I have always asked my guys to be gentlemen at all times. Anything less is unacceptable.
See you Wednesday---in person or streamed on-line. Go 'Cats!!
Wednesday / 1 / 6 / 2010
Back at it! Practice Begins for Marianapolis, Andover
Following an extended Holiday Break we begin practicing tonight for Saturday's game versus Class B power Marianapolis Prep. We will return home to play Andover on Wednesday, January 13. Having students from afar always leads to logistical travel issues---hopefully we will have our entire squad in force by tomorrows second practice. Marianapolis will likely carry a 9-2 record into Saturday's game. We will take the floor at 6-3. This is a quality opponent lead by Quinnipiac-bound Ike Azotam. We started to play better before the break and hope to pick up where we left off. A brutal January schedule awaits---games with Exeter, Brewster, St. Andrew, Proctor and Holderness will certainly test our mettle.
Sunday / 12 / 20 /2009 'Cats Thump Master's to Take Title
Another great effort. We jumped out to a 10-0 lead, stretched it to 18-2 and cruised to a solid win over the Master's School. Very impressive defensive effort this weekend. We held each team we played in the 40's. We also started to come together offensively. I was very pleased that the majority of our baskets in the title game came off assists. David Hahn really established his presence in the paint early, gathering 6 rebounds and blocking four shots in the first half. Carlos Toussaint, like he did in the semi-final game, hit Master's with three point daggers down the stretch every time Master's made a run. We forged a 32-12 halftime lead and kept the pressure on, though Master's cut the lead to eleven at one point---before Carlos ended things with a 20' bomb.
Our bench was suberb throughout the tournament. Keith Callies, Gus Cruz, Pascal Mensah, Rick Naylor and Akeem Labitue provided energy and defense. Cruz even showed a little offensive guile!
Leslie Smith, Din Moore and Grant White were named to the all-tournament team. Grant was very solid and is developing into a nice "blender". I have long felt a team needs a blender, someone who doesn't long to 'stand out', but does the little things to blend in. Grant is suberb in that area. David and Carlos could easily have made all-tourney as well. We were a team this weekend and it was good to see. (Not easy playing five games in five days---but we went 4-1 and had a shot to get all five).
Tourney Tidits: Catholic Memorial President Paul Sheff, former KUA teacher and trustee, was in attendance---great to see him. Former Sharon Academy coach Kevin Ellis saw two games. Many family members were there to watch---I know how important it is to have parents, siblings, relatives, in attendance. Several college coaches watched and I continue to hear positive comments about our kids. Also, many friends of KUA Head of School Mike Schafer were in the gym---Mr. Schafer came to KUA from Middlesex School and is fondly remembered.
Great tournament---6-3 now at the break. We come back to practice Jan 6. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...
Saturday / 12 /19 /2009 KUA Advances to Title Game
Great effort this morning as KUA advanced past host Middlesex 59-49. The Wildcats lead throughout, maintaining a seven-fourteen point lead for much of the game. A 10-0 Middlesex run narrowed the KUA lead to two points with 6:00 left but Carlos Toussaint and Leslie Smith hit big shots down the stretch and Din Moore's steal and coast-to-coast layup iced the win.
I was very pleased with our defensive effort and our teamwork was better on offense. We are getting good minutes from the bench as well. Moore lead KUA with 21 points, Smith added 17 and Toussaint chipped in 11. Grant White added 8 points and David Hahn had three nice assists.
The 'Cats face Master's School at 5:30 today in the title game. Our overall record is now 5-3. Blizzard approaching so I may not call many time-outs!
Friday / 12 / 18 / 2009 'Cats Open Tourney with Win
We had a balanced attack today and beat Nobles to advance to tomorrow mornings semi-final game versus host Middlesex. KUA jumped out to a 10-0 lead and was never threatened. Good balance and productivity from the bench. Pascal Mensah sparked us defensively and Gus Cruz had a nice game offensively. Need a great effort tomorrow against 6-9 Rod Odom and friends. 57-44 win today, Din Moore lead with 10 points.
Wednesday / 12 / 16 / 2009 Not Enough to Pull Off Upset
We played our best game of the young season but it was not enough as defending Class B and NE champs Tilton held off the 'Cats 67-57. Great first half as we lead 33-30 at the break. Carlos Toussaint, Les Smith, and Keith Callies were spark plugs. Tilton's speed and depth were factors, we were beat down the floor several times as the game wore on. Gerald Coleman, a Providence signee, was spectacular. He had a "quiet" 23 points. I was very impressed with their team. They played hard and stayed focus as we gave them our best shot. That's what championship teams do.
Once again we tried to do to much off the dribble. That is a strength of ours however so I don't want to take it away. I would like to see a healthy mix of passing and cutting added to the mix. We are now 3-3 on the year. Practice tomorrow at 2:30 in preparation for the holiday tournament this weekend.
Wednesday / 12 / 16 / 2009 Good Win at Andover
All wins are good wins, some are just better than others. We gutted out a 57-51 victory last night to up our record to 3-2. Keith Callies sparked us early and Leslie Smith controlled things late. We turned up the defensive pressure in the 2nd half which allowed us to keep control. Our motion offense is taking way too long to come around but with little to no practice time this week it is what it is. Our two best cutters last night were Keith and sophomore Rick Naylor. However, as they cut open our other guards were to busy dribbling to see them and deliver the ball. A simple, and often overlooked, key to offensive basketball is the ability to SEE the action.
Fascinating world here at boarding school. Our students are packing for the holiday break. Seniors are panicked about their college apps, the international kids are readying for a long journey, the athletes are juggling many demands. It is quite hectic and challenging. Our team has a tough test tonight with powerful Tilton coming to the 'Cat House. Following an important practice tomorrow we head to Middlesex for their holiday tourney. Three games in two days!
Watch us live tonight if you can't make the game. Go 'Cats!!
Monday, 12 / 14 / 2009 The Week Ahead
Practice today at 4:00, gotta get better but can't go too hard with the way the week unfolds. We play at Andover tomorrow, home versus defending NE champs Tilton Wednesday, travel to Middlesex Friday for a 4:00 tip vs. scrappy Nobles. The Middlesex tournament is a bracketed 8 team event. If we win we play Sat am at 10:00. If we lose it's the 8:30 pm Friday second game of the day! After all is said and done, we will play five games in five days. This will be a great test of our toughness and depth...
Saturday, 12 / 12 / 2009 'Cats Balanced Attack leads to Weekend Split
Carlos Toussaint paced a balanced KUA effort Saturday with 18 points including 3 treys. Grant White had 13 points and 10 rebounds, Din Moore chipped in 12, 10 in the 2nd half; Keith Callies and David Hahn added 10 and 9 respectively. With our offense finally unleashed a bit we were able to overcome a scrappy Vermont Academy 67-43. This evens our record at 2-2---following a tough 63-57 loss at Holderness last night. Down three Friday we had three possessions to get closer and failed to convert.
Our effort is getting better as people are getting more comfortable. We remain incredibly inconsistent. Important tenents in basketball are, and always have been, play hard, smart and together. We tend to view these areas with indifference. Today, for instance, we began the 2nd half up seven and had four fast break opportunities in the first couple of minutes. We bungled each of them. Why? Not attacking the rim with power, too late on 2-1 feeds, poor decision making, lackadaisacal approach to the time and score.
Young people need to accept responsibility for who they are, where they are, when they are there. Not a difficult concept in theory---personal accountability eventually defines someone.
Great to see Carlos bounce back today after a tough Friday. David and Din also had a good weekend---way to go!
How 'bout the week ahead! Fives games in five days with two practices...YIKES!!
Thursday, 12 / 10 / 2009 Blizzard Hits, Game Rescheduled
Wednesdays game at Proctor has been rescheduled for Jan 25 due to heavy snowfall and lots of wind! Glad not to have been driving a van down the interstate though we all were eager to play. Practice today will be our 4th this week and should allow us to become more familiar with each other. Tough stretch on tap as we play 7 games in the next nine days. Holderness is first up, on the road tomorrow. They were in the NE Class C title game a year ago and have loads of talent back. 6-5 Al Francis is a key---he is averaging 22 points a game through the first two games. We come home to 'Cat Country for a 3:00 tip Saturday vs. Vermont Academy. Big weekend to get better.
Tuesday, 12 / 8 / 2009 Ball Movers vs. Ball Stoppers
Interesting scenario developing as I watch my team. Four or five of our top perimeter guys have been "the man" on their prior team and were expected to create a shot for themselves on each touch. They spend an inordinate amount of time dribbling. I am stressing the importance of limiting dribbles, cutting hard, freeing teammates with screens,etc. I've always told kids to "be hard to guard." Someone shaking and baking through the legs with 6-7 dribbles before launching a step-back three is not hard to guard! I had some correspondence with UVA coach Tony Bennett earlier this week. He mentioned his "two-second" rule. Be sure with the ball and move it within 2 seconds! (I've got work to do...)
Check out New England Recruiting Report. They list KUA 8th in Class B among teams with championship aspirations. Scary, as only 8 make the play-offs. We will need to improve steadily and significantly.
Kudo's to Middlebury College Panthers...7-0 start! Good job Coach Brown and team.
Tough Proctor tomorrow with rain and snow on the way. Go 'Cats!
Monday, 12 / 7 / 2009 Monday's With Mike, 3 questions for the Coach
1. What was your impression of the first weeks action?
I've mentioned several times the importance of familiarity and repetition. We hold our 9th practice today. I know Deerfield was finding their way Saturday as well. They have had some injuries and few practices. This was a case where an early season game was not played at a high level because, frankly, neither team was executing as they will be in another 10 days or so. It takes time.
2. Who has impressed thus far?
Keith Callies was our lone bright spot in the opener last Wednesday. He is sound and pretty consistent with his perimeter shooting. Grant White was more relaxed Saturday and shot the ball pretty well early. He is just starting to get his basketball legs following football season.
3. What concerns do you have heading into three games this week?
We have to gain some consistency in practice these two days to be ready to take on a strong Proctor team Wednesday. Four or five of our guys are struggling to accept their role & identity. These guys were the stars on their previous team and were expected to carry big loads offensively. Now they are asked to be patient and play team ball. This is a difficult adjustment. Good teams are balanced offensively. We also need to trust in the defensive scheme and play together. We haven't even considered rebounding yet. That would be a good idea.
The 'Cats practice at 4:00 Monday and Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday's game at Proctor. KUA heads to Holderness Friday before hosting Vermont Academy Saturday.
Saturday, 12 / 5 / 2009 'Cats Scratch out Victory in Home Opener
It took a 10-0 run early in the 2nd half to put away a scrappy Deerfield, 54-40, in NEPSAC action Saturday at KUA. We were solid defensively limiting DA to just 11 second half points---and just four field goals.
Grant White paced KUA with 15 points, Carlos Toussaint had 8, Keith Callies and Leslie Smith had 7, Din Moore and David Hahn had 6 points.
I told the kids we went from a "d" to a "c" today. We're not their yet but we did play with effort.
Learning a system takes time as does learning the strengths and weaknesses of your teammates. We are pretty foreign still to each other. Glad to have a victory though. Big week next week with three games!
Friday, 12 / 4 / 09 Home Opener Tomorrow
Decent practice Thursday---Norwich University coach Paul Booth was in attendance watching a couple of our kids. Good bounce-back from disappointing first game Wednesday. We are allotted 90 minutes per day---because of our limited facility and two boys' teams and two girls' teams---so it is imperative to hit the floor running!
Great day in New England, 40 degrees and sunny. Many of us 50-somethings must feel a little older today as Jethro Bodine turns 72!!
Thinking this morning about a mindset for winning. I concluded in my self lecture their are four key components to winning in all phases of your life: trust, toughness, confidence, and poise. Basketball is a great medium to test that hypothesis. (Because we have a new team and only have held seven practices we are a work in progress in these areas). Trust is so critical to the team concept because each member of the team must trust themselves, teammates, coaches, system. Trust requires total buy-in that things will turn out for the best if only we give our best. It is not a difficult concept---in theory---but so many young people can't get their arms around it.
Deerfield tomorrow...game will be streamed live...come watch or tune in via internet. Go 'Cats!
Thursday, 12 / 3 /09 'Cats Fall at BB&N
Our exceptional bus driver, Mr. Murphy, must have brought his law to the gym as Murphy's Law prevailed in our opener: all that could go wrong did go wrong. Very cold shooting proved to be our main nemesis but we also failed to execute defensively and we were non-existent on the glass. We fell to a scrappy BB&N squad 50-37. We connected on just 29% of our field goal attempts. Our backcourt starters, Carlos Toussaint and Leslie Smith combined for 4-20 shooting. Keith Callies (postgrad, San Antonio, TX.) was the lone bright spot, connecting on 8-14 from the field and finishing with 19 points. Besides Keith the remainder of the squad shot just 8-40 from the floor.
We are better than we showed in the opener. We have had few practices and it showed! BB&N played a sagging 3-2 zone and we obliged by launching off-balance, rushed, ill-advised shots. Our group will learn to play with poise and patience---it just takes time.
The group dynamic is so important in team sports. There must be acceptance of roles, mutual respect, trust. It is nearly impossible to be good (or great) at anything without complete buy-in. Teams are not built in a week or two. We will go back to practice and work to come together as a group. A strong Deerfield Academy team travels to KUA Saturday for our next test.
Wednesday, 12 / 2 / 09 Season Opener Today at Buckingham Browne and Nichols
We travel to Cambridge, Mass for a 3:30 tip-off. This addition of KUA Wildcat hoops --our 103rd season---promises to be an adventure! The end of the trimester exams, Thanksgiving break, post-season play for football and soccer, injuries...have all contributed to a less-than-optimal pre-season. We have not yet had a full squad at practice so it is very hard to tell how the team will perform today and in Saturday's home opener vs. Deerfield. We have focused on defense and have made some progress. We will be watching the following closely: defensive transition, stopping the ball, guarding the dribbler, early help, not fouling, and not allowing second shot opportunities. These defensive objectives, when not executed, cause teams to lose.
Offensively we have only just begun. It is impossible, frankly, to learn a system in a week. We will only ask our guys to play smart and be patient.
This is my first game coaching at the prep level. We have a virtually new team---with the exception of post player Gus Cruz---fresh off the grid-iron. So. as I said, it will be an adventure...
I am very excited about the potential of our backcourt. Point guard Leslie Smith, a Lafayette signee, and two guard Carlos Toussaint, a Mexican Junior National product, will provide athleticism, experience, confidence, and toughness. Springfield, VT post grad Grant White, 'Cat quarterback, has only had a few days to adjust to the high-tops but will be a key player for us. Injuries to other key guys will force us to scramble a bit. It should be interesting.
I am fortunate to have two great assistants. Long-time KUA coach Murray Dewdney is quite an asset and former Bowdoin Polar Bear Darien Reid will lead the JV team and help out the varsity with his keen understanding of the game.
Check here for (nearly) daily updates and semi-epic musings.
Thursday, 11/20/09 Thanksgiving Break comes to KUA...
We will work out at 2:30 today with a skeleton crew as several players have left campus for break and the football players are preparing for their Saturday Bowl game. Pascal Mensah will also be joining the team following the conclusion of soccer season. His team is currently in the NEPSAC semi-finals.
The Wildcat cagers open their season in just 13 days. Limited practice time will certainly hinder preparation but I am hoping to have the base defensive system in as well as an offensive framework.
With 10 games in 19 days the season will soon be upon us! Check here daily for KUA Wildcat inside information.
#31 Malik Abu
Senior / 6-8 / Forward
Hometown: Mattapan, MA
Parents: Rotimi and Helen
#4 Malcolm Brent
Senior / 6-4 / Guard
Hometown: Silver Spring, MD
Parents: Duncan and Liz
#32 Adrian Callies
Senior / Guard / 6-0
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
Parents: Arlington and Pam
#21 Bennett Grigull
Senior / 6-4 / Guard
Parents: Wayne and Janet
#11 Gus King
Senior / Guard / 6-2
Hometown: Wellesley, MA
Parents: Liz and Rufus
#22 Duby Maduegbunam
Senior / Forward / 6-5
Hometown: Boston, MA
#3 Crew Ainge
Junior / 5-11 / Guard
Hometown: Wellesley, MA
Parents: Danny and Michelle
#44 Moses Toriola
Sophomore / 6-10 / Center
Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria
Parent: Abidemi Toriola
#40 Charlie Williams
Junior / Forward / 6-8
Hometown: Meriden, NH
Parents: Joe and Eileen
#42 Cooper Williams
Sophomore / 6-4 / Guard
Hometown: Meriden, NH
Parents: Joe and Eileen
#12 Max Silveira
PG / 6-0 / Guard
Hometown: Andover, MA
Parents: Doug and Ellen
#20 Oliver Tot
SR / 6-6 / Guard
Hometown: Bratislava, Slovakia
Parents: Stephen and Beata
#5 Nathan Hall
PG / 5-11 / Guard
Hometown: London, England
Parents: Richard and Sharon
Mike Olson currently serves as Assistant Director of College Advising and Boys’ Basketball Coach at Kimball Union Academy, Meriden, New Hampshire.
Olson has guided the Wildcats to four consecutive winning seasons and an overall record of 71-38. The 2011-12 team proved to be one of the finest in school history finishing with a 21-6 record and a quarter-final appearance in the NEPSAC AA Tournament. The 2012-13 season saw the Wildcats advance to the NEPSAC AA semi-finals where they fell to eventual champion Cushing.
Prior to accepting his current position Olson coached at Thetford (VT) Academy, where during the 2007-2008 season he guided the Panthers to an overall 18-5 record and a semi-final berth in the State Tournament.
From 2002-2004 he was Associate Head Coach at Dartmouth College where he worked under former KUA coach Dave Faucher. Responsible for team defense, Olson directed the Big Green to top half finishes in the Ivy League in points allowed and field goal percentage each year. He also served as national recruiting coordinator and helped land five early decision candidates in 2004.
Olson came to Hanover, NH following a successful three year stint as head coach at Minnesota State University Moorhead, an NCAA II program and a member of the strong Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. During the 2002 season the Dragons went 16-11, the highest win total in ten years. On January 20th, versus Minnesota-Crookston, Olson achieved a coaching milestone recording his 300th collegiate victory.
From 1990-1999 Olson served as head coach at Black Hills State University. During his tenure at BHSU, his teams won four South Dakota-Iowa Conference titles and advanced to the NAIA National Championships four times. The Yellow Jackets best showing at nationals came during the 1997 and 1999 seasons when the team advanced to the Elite Eight. Olson was honored as SDIC coach of the year following the ’93, ’97,’98 and ’99 seasons. The 1999 squad would rise to a national NAIA #2 ranking, produce an overall 26-7 record, feature three All-Americans and one Academic All-American, and boast a 3.07 team grade point average. Overall, 28 of 29 seniors who played for Olson at BHSU received their degrees. Later, BHSU would name him their “coach of the century” commemorating 100 years of basketball on the Spearfish, SD campus. Olson was inducted into the BHSU Hall of Fame in September, 2011.
Prior to accepting the BHSU position Olson coached at Gustavus Adolphus College and Mount Senario College. He compiled an overall mark of 90-56 over five consecutive winning seasons and was named Upper Midwest Collegiate Conference coach of the year after the 1988 and 1989 seasons.
Olson began his professional career at the high school level where he taught physical education and served as head baseball and basketball coach at Lake Geneva (WI) Northwestern Military Academy and Green Bay (WI) Bay Port High School.
In 25 seasons as a head coach Olson has compiled an overall record of 432-253 including a 305-191 collegiate mark. His secondary school record stands at 127-62 in eight seasons. A noted teacher of basketball fundamentals, Olson has developed an international presence while conducting clinics and camps in Scotland, England, Iceland, Sweden, Australia and Greece.
Olson, a Tomahawk, WI native, received his bachelor’s degree from St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI (1981) and a master’s degree in education from Norwich University, Northfield, VT (1982). He also holds an advanced study certificate in educational leadership from Upper Valley Educators Institute, Lebanon, NH.
Mike and his wife Colleen, a nurse practitioner at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, reside in South Strafford, VT. They are the parents of two adult children, Katy, a Middlebury College graduate, and Erik, a Linfield College graduate who is currently the head coach of FSu in Selfoss, Iceland.