December 7, 2022

Stuart Basketball Getting Back to Basics As Bowman Returns for 2nd Stint as Coach

CHASING SUCCESS: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Lauren Chase brings the puck up the ice in action last winter. Senior defenseman Chase is poised for a big final campaign for the Panthers. PDS hosts Cranford on December 9 in its season opener. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though Tony Bowman just retired after a long career as an investigator with the N.J. Department of Gaming Enforcement, he is not taking it easy.

Instead, Bowman is keeping busy by starting a return engagement as the head coach of the Stuart Country Day School basketball team, a program he previously guided from 2003-11.

“It has been different; when I got there last time I had like 14, 15 girls,” said Bowman, who is taking over a team that went 8-8 last winter. “I had a few more basketball players and I had more multi-sport athletes. I don’t have that this time, either the numbers and that kind of athlete. Right now, I have nine players.”

As he tries to get the most out of his scrappy band of players, he is going back to basics.

“I am focusing on fundamentals, teaching basketball and making sure everybody is on the same page,” said Bowman. “My ideal is to make the players that are good to get better and the ones that are just learning basketball to be better than what they were when they got started. That is what I am doing.”

Bowman believes his approach is resonating, “They are responding very well,” said Bowman, whose team fell 71-26 to the Pennington School in its season opener last Monday. “They are working hard and they are loving basketball. It is that simple.”

Junior Leila Washington figures to give Stuart a lot of good work in the backcourt this winter.

“Leila is back, she is my No. 1 player; she has run the point but right now we are teaching her how to see the floor a little better,” said Bowman of Washington. “She is picking up things very quickly, her basketball IQ is great. I want her to have a new love for the game in a different way. What I mean by that, and I have already stressed this to her, I am looking for her to be the coach on the floor. We have to have a good rapport. I am teaching her to see things on the floor and guide other individuals. She can shoot the three, she can shoot the two.”

Another key returner for the Tartans is senior Emily Ix, who also stars in field hockey and lacrosse.

“Emily has a willingness to play hard, she works hard every day,” said Bowman, whose other returners include Isabel Milley, Rachel Emil-Ashun, and Anna-Rose Bourgin. “She will be a three (small forward), she will be a swing player.

The squad features some promising newcomers in Taylor States and Leila Hernandez-Lewis.

“Taylor is very willing to be coached, she works hard and goes to the basket well,” said Bowman. “Right now we are teaching her big man moves to give her more of an arsenal to play. Leila is like a three (small forward), she is about 5’6, 5’5. In the last couple of days and in the scrimmage she showed a nice crossover, go the basket, and finish the lay-up. I was really impressed. I have been telling her, you have to go the basket. You have got to look to shoot, don’t defer.”

Going forward, Bowman is looking to instill that intensity into his players collectively.

“I have to get them to want to shoot and the next thing is to get them to run plays; so far it has been a work in progress but we are doing well,” said Bowman, whose team hosts the Peddie School on December 13. “The key is being more aggressive on the offense and defense. It is not wins or losses, it is just developing what we can do. We need to find out our weaknesses and improve on them.”