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Could Somers be Class A's sleeper?

Posted Wednesday, January 15, 2014 by MSG Varsity

Daily Dip: Could Somers be Class A's sleeper?

by Kevin Devaney Jr. on
Sun, Jan 12, 2014 11:14 PM — @MSGVarsityKDJ

Updated Sun, Jan 12, 2014 11:17 PM
Daily Dip: Could Somers be Class A's sleeper?
Photo by Patrick Tewey

Sunday feature: Somers on cusp in Class A contention

When Somers coach Chris DiCintio said it, I instantly thought he was crazy. Then he read my mind.

“You probably think I’m crazy,” DiCintio said. “But I’m serious.”

DiCintio has reason to believe the words he repeated several times on Sunday night. And he just may convince you he’s not that crazy.

“This year’s team is better as a whole than last year’s team,” the second-year Tuskers coach pleaded. “We don’t have a scorer like John Decker, but I really think we could be better in the end.”

In DiCintio’s first season last year, Somers reached heights it hadn’t seen in two decades. The Tuskers won xx games, won their first playoff game, had an all-state player and 1,000-point scorer in Decker and were truly relevant in Section 1 for the first time that I could remember.

Yet with all that Somers lost, DiCintio feels this squad could be better. The key words, however, are “could be.”

“I’m sure when people see us at 4-6, knowing our history, they’re going to think it’s ‘Same old Somers.’ But it’s not,” DiCintio said. “Anybody who sees us now compared to the first week would be surprised.

“I’ve told these guys that in my 15 years of coaching, this is the hardest working team I’ve had. The kids are just busting their butts every day.”

And it’s beginning to pay off. Somers has won back to back game and had a talented Putnam Valley team on the ropes last Saturday’s one-point defeat.

There’s something you have to remember about Somers’ start to the season where it lost three out of four and were blown off the floor in the first two (by Lourdes and Beacon). The Tuskers have a roster full of football players, who were coming off another run to a Section 1 title and berth in the state tournament. It’s not an excuse. But it certainly delays the process.

If any coach knows the effects of a football delay — or how to deal with it — it’s DiCintio. He’s been a head coach for 11 years; nine at Rye and now two at Somers. In those 11 seasons, his preseason’s have been delayed by championship football teams seven times.

Imagine that? Rye won the section five straight times during DiCintio’s tenure and made four trips to the Carrier Dome on Thanksgiving weekend four times. Not every basketball player was on the football team, but it was enough to disrupt the preseason.

“Even in my years at Rye, we were always a team that played a lot better at the end of the season than at the beginning,” DiCintio said. “Football was a big part of that.”

On this year’s roster, Somers has a handful of football players — Conor Cousin, Josh Riger, Matt Arita, Anthony Maestri and Nick Lombardo — who didn’t get into the gym until Nov. 11. And that’s not to say they were in basketball shape, or mode.

The football factor, however, is over now in the second week of January, which is perfect timing for the 4-6 Tuskers as they gear up for a critical stretch. They face Mahopac on Monday, which is a tall task, but have Carmel and two games in the Yorktown tournament.

“If we could come out of this with three wins in the four games, we could really make some noise,” said DiCintio, who is 4-4 in New York State play, which is what Section 1 playoff seeds are based on. “That’s how focused these kids are right now.”

DiCintio said losing Decker, Section 1’s leading scorer last season at 24 points per game, is difficult but the Tuskers have patched it together. The way he figures it, Decker and Matt Moros combined to average 36 points per game last season. This season, Moros and Cousin are averaging 34.

Few teams have anybody that can match up with Somers’ front line with 6-foot-9 forward Max Parks and 6-5 Pat Melly.

“Those two guys are vastly, vastly improved from last season,” DiCintio said. “Max has really come around and Pat continues to get better.”

In a month from now, we may not think DiCintio is that crazy after all.

- See more at: http://www.msgvarsity.com/hudson-valley/daily-dip-could-somers-be-class-a-s-sleeper-1.1557112#sthash.eHsJF4nU.dpuf

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