RCS coach hopes bigger is better for basketball team

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By John Bernhardt
Roxbury boys’ coach Tom Faraci will put one of the bigger squads in the Delaware League on the basketball court this winter. Faraci hopes added inches of height and wingspan around the basket provide his young squad with an offensive and defensive boost. And, Faraci knows that to compete in a tough Delaware League, his team will need to have competitive hearts as big as their frames to aggressively pursue every ball off the glass and play tough defense.

Rebounding & defense
“We know to take advantage of our size, we have to rebound and play defense well,” explained Faraci. “This is a great group of guys who are working hard to do the things we want, so I’m optimistic. We have a lot of kids without a lot of varsity experience, so it may take a little time to hit our stride.”
Two second-year seniors, Sam Nash and Patrick Hanrahan, with be part of the Rockets’ contingent hoping to make a difference around the basket. Davis, at six feet, had an expanding role last winter as the season progressed, and proved he can bang around from the inside. An improved midrange jump shot should aid Davis’s offensive game. At six feet, two inches, Hanrahan is a traditional inside post, a strong rebounder who does a nice job plugging up the middle of the Rocket defense.

Big juniors
Two returning juniors, six feet, two inch Will Rendler and six feet, three inch Matt Faraci, provide Roxbury with inside/outside offensive potential. Rendler and Faraci have moved through the Rocket program as guards and handle the ball well. The junior duo can also play at the forward spots providing Faraci added versatility to utilize his personnel as situations dictate. Rendler and Faraci should be an asset in pressing schemes on both the offensive and defensive sides of the court.
A strong basketball IQ, a workman like attitude, and the ability to make split second decisions make junior Chris Clark a natural at point guard. Clark, who has a good outside shooting touch, could see time on the floor as a shooting guard, too.
The Rockets will get a boost at guard from another junior, Connor DiBenedetto, who is playing varsity basketball for the first time. DiBenedetto is a hustler who adds a burst of energy and is not shy about taking the basketball to the rim. The first year junior is working hard on his outside shot to expand his scoring options. Josh Paes, another first year junior, adds depth as a five foot, 10 inch forward. When he gets his feet set, Paes has a decent midrange shooting touch.

Moving to varsity
Three sophomores have been elevated from the junior varsity to round out the Roxbury roster. Assertive floor play from Jacob Davis has impressed Faraci during the preseason. Davis takes the ball strong to the rack, scraps inside for rebounds, and plays hard defense. The first year Rocket is working hard to add a 15-foot outside shot to his resume.
Zach Caronia and Tyler Phillips are guard/forwards working hard to improve their total game at the varsity level. Faraci is confident the day-to-day uptick in competitive play Caronia and Phillips will get at the varsity level will benefit the team in the short-term and each of his first year sophomores in the long run.
There have been many positive signs for Faraci in the preseason. The Roxbury coach likes the work ethic of his young team and their eagerness to learn. As it often is with young teams, Faraci is hoping that as the season moves forward his guys will begin to add some finishing touches to their play. “We have to continue to work on finishing things. We do a lot of things well but don’t always finish,” explained the Roxbury coach.

Tough competition
Faraci expects a rugged Delaware League this winter. “Stamford is looking really tough, Gilboa has the nucleus of their team returning, and Margaretville has some very strong guards,” Faraci noted.
The Rockets will travel to Milford this weekend to open 2013 play in the Milford Tournament. They will battle the host school on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Consolation and championship action is scheduled for 4 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.