The Princeton Youth Sports (PYS) team took its lumps last Monday as it fell 68-49 to Northeast Realty in the Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League but that’s OK with Shahid Abdul-Karim.
For PYS, the Princeton High boys’ basketball entry in the league, the goal is to be tested by tough competition, not post easy wins.
“They played well, they played hard but it is tough for them,” said PHS assistant coach Abdul-Karim, reflecting on the loss that dropped PYS to 0-4 this summer.
“It is frustrating. That is why we put them in there so they can get beat up and understand what it is like to go against some older, bigger, and faster guys bumping them around. Now with this league being so young, you have the TCNJ team and guys who are still playing in college.”
Playing well in the first half, PYS jumped out to an 18-17 lead and trailed just 33-25 at halftime.
“We played decent in the first half; we did a pretty decent of job of penetrating, kicking, and making some shots and we were in it. We had some cuts and some backdoors. We were making shots.”
Abdul-Karim acknowledged that PYS struggled defensively down the stretch of the contest.
“In the second half, our transition defense was down the drain and that is what I was talking to them about so we have to do a better job on transition.” said Abdul-Karim.
“We didn’t have a big man tonight, we were missing two of our inside guys to rebound. Timmy and Tad Moore weren’t here so it was tough. We had all guards and no one is used to playing down low.”
The team’s guards, Michael Dowers, Kevin Kane, and J.C. Silva, kept firing away. “Dowers did a good job, he made some shots early,” said Abdul-Karim, who got 12 points from Silva with Dowers chipping in 10.
“Kevin Kane made some shots, he was getting down in transition and made a couple of baskets. J.C. Silva got some baskets and got to the line on that three-pointer and made all three.”
Although PYS hasn’t posted a win yet this summer, the players haven’t lost their confidence.
“They see some of the teams and think we can win,” said Abdul-Karim. “That is a good thing for them to have going into the game, thinking they can win.”
In the view of Abdul-Karim, a former PHS hoops standout who went on to play at Springfield College, the best thing about playing in the summer league for PYS is developing some extra grit.
“We have been doing this since I was in high school and even before,” said Abdul-Karim, noting that the team just finished a camp at Princeton University and is getting extra work in weekly open gym sessions.
“The main thing is the toughness. We just want them to be tougher and understand that when we get into the season, the mentality is that we played against men all summer and we want to show and apply that. It is a pretty busy summer but that is good, the more basketball, the better.”