Mark Shelley is preparing for a lot of nailbiters this winter with his Princeton High boys’ basketball team.
“I don’t think we are going to blow out a lot of teams but I don’t think many teams are going to blow us out,” said PHS head coach Shelley, who guided the Little Tigers to a 12-11 record last winter in his debut campaign at the helm of the program.
“We have a lot of depth and a lot of seniors. We play a good zone defense which should keep the games close.”
The Little Tigers feature a lot of depth in the backcourt, with junior Kevin Kane and sophomore Matt Hart at shooting guard and the trio of senior Paul Murray, junior J.C. Silva, and junior Max Tarter handing the point guard duties.
“Kevin Kane and Matt Hart can really shoot the ball and they have separated themselves from the others because of that,” said Shelley, whose team tips off the 2013-14 season by playing at Allentown on December 20.
“Kane can score in bunches. He has gotten a lot better; he played all summer and fall. Matt played a lot too and he is playing so well right now. Paul Murray is not as quick as the other point guards but he is a really savvy player. He really understands the game. J.C. makes good decisions and can shoot from the outside. Max has the best ball skills and quickness.”
A pair of battle-tested seniors, Peter Mahotiere and Callahan O’Meara, should provide good production for PHS at forward.
“Peter and Cal will be down low for us,” said Shelley. “We like the fact that they can put the ball on the floor and shoot from the outside. We are tough to guard when we have five shooters on the floor, we are working on spreading the floor and generating good matchups. We will be running a lot of one post sets.”
In Shelley’s view, PHS can win the close games by being tough on the boards and properly executing its offense.
“The biggest keys are rebounding and taking care of the ball,” said Shelley.
“We are going to have a challenge with rebounding, we drill on it everyday. We send everybody to the glass on defense. On offense, we want three to go to the glass and two to stay back. We are not going to score a ton of points so we need our point guards to make good decisions. They need to know when to run our set offense and when to take a quick shot. The basic concept is that if the defense isn’t set, we want to push it.”
With the PHS players having pushed themselves hard over the offseason, Shelley believes they are ready for the challenges ahead.
“I feel like we could have a really good season,” said Shelley. “We had a good summer of work. We are competitive. We played in the Princeton men’s summer league, the Princeton University team camp, and the Hillsborough summer high school league. We also played in a fall league. A lot of them just play basketball and they have worked hard to get ready for the season.”