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With New Head Coach Shelley Taking the Helm, PHS Boys’ Hoops Looking to be More Deliberate

As Mark Shelley takes the helm of the Princeton High boys’ basketball team, he will be pulling in the reins a bit on the racehorse style that has characterized the program in recent years.

“We will run more of a precision offense,” said Shelley, who served as the PHS junior varsity coach last season and is taking over for Jason Carter, now an assistant with The College of New Jersey men’s hoops team.

“We want to have sound positioning on defense and do the little things right. I think we will be holding teams to fewer points than we did last year but the scores may not be as high. I believe strongly in a match-up zone. We will be running more half-court traps and less full-court pressing. On offense, we will run more sets.”

While the Little Tigers may not be as fast-paced as they have been in the last few seasons, Shelley believes his team can maintain the program’s recent success.

“The varsity lost a lot of close games last year, I think we can be as competitive as last year,” said Shelley, who is taking over a team coming off a 12-13 season.

“I don’t set long term goals; I want us to get better every day, individually and collectively. I am a process guy. If we do that, good things will happen.”

A key part of that process will center on getting everyone on the same page.

“The biggest thing is mixing
the newcomers in with the veterans,” said Shelley, whose team tips off the 2012-13 campaign by playing at Hopewell Valley on December 14.

“There is chemistry within each group and now I need to develop chemistry between them.”

Shelley is depending on skilled senior center Lior Levy to play a big part in helping with PHS’s on-court chemistry.

“I don’t think we will be at our best if Lior is doing most of the scoring, we need to share the ball,” said Shelley.

“He is such a good passer. We will be setting him up in both the high and low post. He is key player but he won’t be our leading scorer every night. We had a scrimmage the other day and we had four guys between 9 and 11 points, that is how we want to be.”

PHS has some other good guys in the post with junior Peter Mahotiere, senior Christian Giles, junior Andrew Braverman, and junior Robbie von der Schmidt.

“Right now Peter has stepped up as the other starter in the post,” said Shelley.

“He is strong and he uses his body well. He can also step out and hit a three. Giles does a real good job; he is a real athlete. Bravermen is just getting back from soccer so he is a little rusty right now but he will help us. Von der Schmidt was on the JV last year and was injured for most of the year with a concussion. He is raw but is getting a lot better.”

The Little Tigers are a lot better when senior guard Scott Bechler is triggering the offense.

“Bechler is so coachable; he is by far our best ball handler,” asserted Shelley.

“We are so much more settled offensively when the ball is in his hands. He is a leader. All the seniors are good leaders, they are self-motivated.”

A lot of players should be seeing the ball in the backcourt as PHS boasts good depth at guard with senior Ellis Bloom, junior Cal O’Meara, senior Elliott Golden, junior Paul Murray, and junior Matt Vasseur.

“Bloom is real solid, he hit some big 3s for us in our last scrimmage,” said Shelley.

“Cal is a good athlete. He can play inside and then he can step out and hit the 3. I like his chemistry with the other guys; he plays different positions. We may have him at the 4 sometimes. Golden, Murray, and Vasseur are interchangeable parts, they each have their own strengths that can help us.”

Noting that he has a deep rotation, Shelley is looking to deploy that depth through spreading the wealth on offense and hustling on defense.

“We have to share the basketball, both in terms of assists and scoring,” said Shelley.

“We have to take care of the basketball. We are not a team that make three or four turnovers and have an 8-0 run against us and then come back quickly. We have got to play solid defense. We want to force off-balance outside jumpers with a hand in the shooter’s face. I like our odds in that situation. We need to stop perimeter drives and force outside shots.”

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