This year’s team is made up of mostly juniors and sophomores who played last year, but Brown says he has already noticed changes from a crew that went 6-15 last year. “We lost six or seven games by five or less points last season,” said Brown. “They’ve gotten a lot better, not just skillwise, but physically. Hopefully the growth and experience factor of these players will correlate this year to a more successful season, and line us up for the postseason and to make a good run.”
Brown is entering his sixth season as the Wildcat’s head coach and has seen this group of players grow up playing basketball together. Brown is the physical education teacher for the Whitngham Elementary and Twin Valley Middle schools, as well as their athletic director and health education teacher. Brown hopes the years of chemistry that his players have will equal success and a return to the Barre Auditorium for the first time since 2010, something Brown says is a “reach goal.”
“Many of these guys played together since a young age so there’s a chemistry and a history. Colin Lozito and the Nesbitt boys (Dal and Cade) started on this varsity team as freshmen. They’ve got each other’s backs, but one through 12, they’ll get on each other if they have to and support each other.”
At practice, Brown is hands-on, jumping into a play to correct even a small misstep, and demanding communication between players, all while commanding a visible level of respect between himself and his players. Brown knows what it takes to win, having been a three-year captain at both Wilmington High and Lyndon State College. This year Brown realizes his team’s strength may not be its size, but its speed.
“We’ve got great team speed, so if we can get out in transition that would be the way to play,” said Brown. “We’re going to have to defend in the half court and let that fuel our offense. (I’m) not saying we can’t execute in the half court, but if we can defend in the half court and make teams take tough shots, that should fuel everything else.”
With such a young team, Brown knows his veterans need to lead by example, and Brown says they’re up to the task. “We have five newcomers, and the combination of those who have three years of experience blending with the new guys really helps to bring them up to speed.”
Brown also says that while his team has matured and the ultimate goal is the Aud, the season will not be easy. “It will be tough, there aren’t many games you can look at (on the schedule) and say that’s a should-win, but we could set some lofty goals and win a lot of games, it just all comes down to what these guys do on the court.”
The Wildcats begin their season Friday at Rivendell Academy at 5 pm.