January 6, 2016

Focus on Fundamentals Paying Dividends As PDS Girls’ Basketball Produces 5-4 Start


TURNING THE CORNER: Princeton Day school girls’ basketball player Ryan Robinson dribbles past a foe in recent action. Last Monday, sophomore star Robinson contributed eight points to help PDS defeat Princeton High 42-25. The Panthers, now 5-4, play at the Hun School on January 7 and at Rutgers Prep on January 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Already matching its win total from last winter when it went 5-16, the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team is reaping the benefits of focusing on the basics.

“We have been doing a lot more in practice in terms of shooting and working on just being able to put the ball in the basket,” said PDS head coach Kamau Bailey, whose squad defeated Princeton High 42-25 last Monday as it improved to 5-4 this season.

“I am a fundamentals guy, so first and foremost, we are working on skills, being able to shoot the ball and put it in the basket in different spots on the floor.”

The Panthers put in a lot of shots as they topped Doane Academy 58-37 on December 21 at the Stuart Invitational to end the 2015 portion of their schedule and go 2-1 at the event.

“Two of our wins have already come against teams that beat us last year significantly,” said Bailey, noting that the Panthers turned the tables with wins over the Hill School (Pa.) and Germantown Friends.

“For me that is satisfying. When I got the schedule this year and looked at it, I saw it was a little bit of a tougher schedule this year. We are not playing some of the teams that were guaranteed wins in the past so I anticipated the girls being better skill wise and intensity being a little better and execution being a little better, which it has been so that is great.”

Sophomore Maddie Coyne has shown some great progress. “Maddie is emerging as one of the bigger offensive threats on our team, she is really a vocal leader out there,” asserted Bailey, noting that Coyne is a star performer for the PDS girls’ soccer team that has won two straight state Prep B crowns. “She is really competitive as well, she wants to win.”

A pair of sophomores, Ryan Robinson and Bridget Kane, have been displaying plenty of competitive fire this season.

“Ryan is a strong player, she is playing really good defense,” said Bailey. “We are still working on her to penetrate and go to the basket; she is playing well. Bridget has a great attitude out there on the court. She is very athletic. She ran cross country this past fall and she is in great shape. Bridget is a clutch player too.”

PDS has also been getting some clutch play from senior forward Helen Healey.

“Helen has been playing great this year; in our first win against Hill, she had 20 rebounds,” said Bailey.

“In the Germantown Friends game, she got us started offensively with a couple of drives to the basket and a short jump shot from the elbow. She has been more of an interior player but now she is starting to shoot more.”

In Bailey’s view, a growing spirit of togetherness has been a key to the Panthers’ early success.

“I feel privileged to be coaching this group of girls; they are a great bunch of athletes and kids on and off the court,” said Bailey, whose team plays at the Hun School on January 7 and at Rutgers Prep on January 9.

“They are coming together, the chemistry is great. Last year, we had a bunch of freshmen and some upperclassmen and no one really hung out together too much outside of basketball. They came to the court this year and they are smiling, they are laughing, they are joking. They are having a lot more fun in practice. It is showing on the court. I think that has been huge factor in our success so far this year. Everybody is a little bit more confident and has a little more experience.”