Last winter, Skye Ettin and The College of New Jersey men’s basketball struggled through a 5-20 season.
The former Princeton High star, who is a rising TCNJ junior and team captain, decided that the squad could benefit from spending some time this summer in his neck of the woods.
As a result, Ettin organized the Sneakers Plus entry into the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League, a team comprised entirely of TCNJ players.
“I was captain last year and being a second year captain is something that has led me to take on more leadership because we are a young team,” said Ettin.
“We only graduate one next year so I wanted to set this up in my hometown and get us going in the right direction, doing some summer workouts and captain’s practices. In the fall, everyone will be on the same page in how we need to work to be successful. We have struggled in the past as far as doing all the right things we need to do in the offseason; I think this is the first step to the success we need to have.”
Last Monday evening, Sneakers Plus took a big step in the right direction as it topped powerful Dr. Palmer 59-51 in summer hoops action.
“We had already lost to two of the better teams in the league and we wanted to just make sure that we were ready to play for this game so we came out with some fire,” said Ettin.
“We know they are a good team with great players so we wanted to try to get a win against a quality team and prove that we can play with anyone in the league and compete. I think we did that tonight and we made a statement. I am excited for postseason and what the rest of the season will bring.”
With Ettin on fire as he scored 13 points in the first half, Sneakers Plus built a 31-22 lead by intermission. Things got a little dicey as Dr. Palmer cut the gap to 51-46 with about six minutes to go in the second half. Sneakers Plus, though, didn’t lose its composure and pulled away to the victory as it improved to 4-2.
“I think we kept our cool, that was the main part,” said Ettin, who ended up with a game-high 23 points.
“We go up and play well like we did in the first half tonight and then we let teams get back into the game, which is one of the things that we need to work on. This was a really good test for us because they are skilled guys and they got it to five and we panicked a little bit and then we took control of the ball. We adjusted to running some of our sets in the end when they went to man. I am happy.”
Ettin was happy with the way he played in the win, staying hot to the final whistle.
“I thought my shot was falling early because they were sitting in the 2-3 zone and the high post is something I try to make my living on,” said the 6’5, 170-pound Ettin, who averaged 9.8 points a game for TCNJ in the 2012-13 campaign.
“I feel real comfortable at the high post and they were falling early so I tried to stay aggressive. I think the biggest thing for me out there and especially during the season is my consistency level. I can come out and have these type of games. For me, working on making shots every night and being aggressive and taking those shots is the first step in the right direction.”
In Ettin’s view, the work that Sneakers Plus is putting in this summer will help TCNJ get on the right track this winter.
“I think this is the best thing we could have done; getting the guys together and working on our chemistry so we can go into the season a step ahead of some teams and just a step ahead for us in general,” said Ettin.
“We can put coach [Kelly Williams] in a position where we are putting in new stuff and not working on our old habits. Every second we are out here is momentum going into our season.”