Slow the pace, mix up defensive sets, play with confidence, drive and hustle.
That’s the strategy Coach Michael Mundy of the Shelter Island varsity boys basketball team will employ in the opening game of their playoff run tomorrow night, a Valentine’s Day match against Bridgehampton.
And why not? The game plan worked to perfection the last time they went up against the Killer Bees. That game two weeks ago was one that won’t be soon forgotten, when the Indians beat Bridgehampton for the first time in 44 years to cap their regular season.
And now they’re back, tipping off Thursday at 4 p.m. at Westhampton High School.
The coach knows the Killer Bees come to play and their fans come with spirit to spare. Over the years, when Bridgehampton has come to the Island, they’ve brought their supporters with them. “They bring a loud, basketball-savvy crowd,” Coach Mundy said. “They’re used to playoff settings. They have a history.”
But Coach Mundy is conceding nothing, and will remind his team they’ve beaten the Killer Bees before and for the last several seasons have played them tough. He’s rightfully proud of his team. The confidence, drive and hustle he speaks about have marked an up-and-down season, but resulted in an opportunity to do some damage in the post season. The coach had challenged his team early in the season to play like a playoff team and they’ve rewarded him, themselves and their school.
Besides playing with heart, this season’s Indians are the most athletic team in the coach’s career, which stretches back nearly two decades of high school coaching.
“We have 10 basketball players,” Coach Mundy said. “We have really good depth.”
In addition, three of his five starters are interchangeable and can play as swingmen, so the coach has the luxury of matching up his players on an individual basis against opposition players during the heat of a game.
Bridgehampton is a real test, but the Indians beat them by slowing down the game, which is the plan going into tonight’s contest. “They’re a running team and we took them out of their game,” Coach Mundy said. “We want to only take good shots. Unless we have wide-open lane or a wide-open shot, we’re going to work the ball. Run 28, 30 seconds off the shot clock every possession.”
As for defense, the last time against the Killer Bees the Indians started with man-to-man and then went to zones, employing either a 3-2 or a 2-3.“When they get comfortable, we’ll mix it up,” the coach said.
Win or lose, Coach Mundy said he wanted to thank everyone involved in the program and especially those who have come out to support the team. “It’s been good for the community and good for the kids,” he said. “Good for everyone.”