Skye Ettin couldn’t buy a basket as Tortuga’s Mexican Village played Northeast Realty last week in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League.
Although the former Princeton High standout Ettin managed only four points for Tortuga’s, which is comprised of players from The College of New Jersey men’s hoops team, it turned out to be an educational evening for him.
Serving as a player-coach, Ettin called out plays and defensive sets, directing his teammates all night long as Tortuga’s pulled out a 43-41 win, prevailing on a buzzer beating jump shot by Jayson Johnson.
“This is going to be my third year as captain so I have taken on that leadership role,” said rising TCNJ senior Ettin, a 6’4, 170-pound forward who averaged 7.9 points and 1.9 rebounds a game last winter as the Lions went 8-17.
“I try to direct on the court as well as off the court. With coach [Jason] Carter not here today, it was on me to do a little bit of coaching and playing. I did a lot more coaching than playing for sure.”
While Tortuga’s looked unsure of itself as it fell behind 19-9 in the early going of the June 30 contest, it started playing better, reeling off a 14-0 run to take a 23-19 lead at halftime.
“I think we just had to settle down, we really weren’t getting out to shooters and identifying who was going to hurt us,” said Ettin.
“I think then defensively we went on a stretch where we held them to one basket every couple possessions. We also wanted to get it down low and make them play defense. We weren’t pushing the ball; we weren’t running any sets so we ran one set to kind of get us going. We tried to get it down low to Bobby Brackett and establish him. If you establish him, they have to double him and everything else opens up.”
In the second half, Tortuga’s built its lead to 38-27 but then struggled down the stretch as Northeast knotted the game at 41-41 with a minute left in regulation. In the waning seconds, Johnson proved to be the hero as he dropped in a jumper just before the buzzer.
“We were able to get it together a little bit and even though that is not the way that we want to play, that is going to help us come late in the season next year,” said Ettin.
“We will be in a tight game where we are not playing our best but we will know that we can make a show and have the ability to pull games out.”
Ettin is looking to take a shot at coaching after graduating from TCNJ and is working with Princeton University men’s basketball program this summer.
“I am interning in the basketball office so I have been helping out with the director of basketball operations,” said Ettin.
“I have done camps, to film breakdown, to office work. They have been really great in showing me the life of a coach everyday. I love it. I feel like I am leaps and bound ahead of where I was in the coaching field just from a month and a half of working with them. I never got to do anything like film breakdown; they told me how to do all of that. I have been able to sit in on some of the meetings to see what they are doing as far as recruiting. They have all been so great in helping me so it has been good.”
The game against Northeast gave Ettin a good opportunity to apply some of the lessons he has learned this summer.
“It is beneficial for me honestly to be able to coach and see it from a coach’s perspective with my own team,” said Ettin.
“As one of the seniors on the team and a captain, it helps me for coaching to be able to direct the guys.”
From Ettin’s perspective, Tortuga’s has what it takes to be a title contender this summer.
“I think last year we had a great run; it was our first year in the league and we lost in the championship,” said Ettin of the squad who improved to 4-3 with the win over Northeast.
“We have had a different team almost every game this summer. I think in the playoffs when we hopefully get our whole group, we’ll be able to get it together. I feel confident that we can make a push in the league, we have some experience. If I don’t play great or someone else doesn’t play great, there are other members that can pick it up. Jayson hit the game-winning shot tonight so it is not always on one person.”