By Jacob Sisson
The Pierson Whalers basketball team comes into 2010-2011 ready to forget what was often a disappointing year in 2009-2010. A coaching change and a core group of performers could be just the thing the Whalers need to get them into the playoffs and beyond.??It was a tough year for the Whalers in 2010-2011, as the team dipped to 2-16 across all competitions in what was largely a year to forget.
While the wins and losses may not have shown the team’s effort and desire, it was those qualities that made up for a lack of senior leadership (the team had six juniors and two sophomores on their roster last year) and gives newly appointed coach Dan White something to build on.
“Honestly, I’ll be disappointed if we don’t make the playoffs this year,” said White of his first year in charge. “We had a really good JV team last year and we’ve got a good core group of guys here who have been playing together and playing with me year round, so I think we should definitely say the playoffs are our goal this year.”
“We need to dominate on the boards this year. If we are equalled or out-rebounded, we’ll be in trouble, but we’ve got plenty of size and should be able to dominate our opponents in the rebounding category. If we do that we have a shot at every game.”??The size that White is talking about are the dynamic duo of seniors Skyler Loesch and Seamus Doyle, who will both be tasked with giving Pierson a dominating inside presence. “We have plenty of size. We’ve got guys who are 6’3″ and very athletic and they have to own the boards every night.”
The reliance on the two big men was readily apparent when the Whalers headed to Shoreham Wading River on November 27 for their first scrimmage of the year. For the new Whalers, it was their first chance to get in some game action, and for Loesch and Doyle, it was a chance to showcase their hard work from the off-season.
Doyle and Loesch were both effective on the inside, with Doyle showing excellent touch with his mid-range jump shooting. Moreover, the entire Pierson defensive unit showed great tenacity, challenging every ball and never allowing Shoreham Wading River an open shot.
Defense will be the name of the game for the Whalers, who will try to keep other teams off the scoreboard to ease the pressure on the offense.
“We’re going to try to lock other teams up so we don’t have to score 70 points to win games,” said White. “We’re also going to control the ball more. Last year we lost too many games because we didn’t respect our position. We also need to be good team defenders as well as good individual defenders.”
White points to Greenport, Stony Brook and Port Jefferson as the class of League VIII, but points out Southold as the Whalers’ main competition for the fourth playoff spot. Southold was the runaway winners of League VIII in the 2009-2010 season, going undefeated en route to the league eight title.
The Whalers will also have to fend off challenges from Bridgehampton, Ross and Shelter Island if they hope to make the post-season. ??Pierson’s march to the playoffs begins on Saturday with a trip to non-league foes East Hampton, with the teams league season getting underway on December 17 with a trip to Southold.