“We’re going to get right into it,” said Zack Mundy, coach of the Shelter Island varsity basketball team.
He was talking about the first game of the season on Monday, Dec. 6, but also the challenge of taking on a powerful opponent right out of the gate. The Islanders will open on the road against Smithtown Christian, which finished 8-4 in league play last year.
In his first year on the varsity bench, Coach Mundy knows the season ahead will be one of challenges, especially putting on the floor no players with varsity experience. In fact, he has only one senior suiting up, center Emmett Cummings, who has never played organized basketball.
“He’s a big, tall, strong kid,” the coach said, “He’s coming in with a street ball mentality.”
The goal is to get Emmett acclimated to regular, organized high school basketball, the coach said, for a full-court, full season.
Last year’s basketball season was cut short because of COVID precautions, and the Islanders played just an eight-game schedule, which included a forfeiture by Pierson High School. The varsity finished in 4th place in an eight-team league, with a 4-4 overall record, losing their last game against the team they will face for their Dec. 6 opener, Smithtown Christian.
One advantage the varsity will have this year is there are five players on the roster that Coach Mundy had when he was the junior varsity coach last year. He knows the players’ strengths and shortcomings, and they know him as a leader. A steep hill to climb, however, will be having enough bodies on the court, since there are only 12 players comprising both the varsity and the JV.
To preserve his bench as much as possible, and try to eliminate fatigue and injuries, the strategy is to play in the half court as much as possible, rather than get out on the fast break. “We’ll have a mix of running the court and toning it down, going for jump shots in the half court and getting to the foul line,” the coach said. “We’re going to play smart not to get hurt.”
At the other end of the court, the Islanders will play zone defense this year, rather than man-to-man, again to preserve players’ energy with a limited bench. Because of a lack of size, a 2-3 or 1-3-1 zone are the best options, the coach said.
“Zone doesn’t mean not defending hard,” he added. “But it gives players a break, not having to chase your man all over the court.”
Scouting opponents will be nearly impossible to do in person, since COVID restrictions are still in play, but technology is a key to getting an idea what to expect from opponents and making adjustments before the Islanders go up against them. Almost all schools broadcast games on YouTube or other platforms. “I look at a lot of games,” Coach Mundy said.
The 2010 graduate, who played varsity ball under his father, Mike Mundy, the coach said he knows his players and discipline will not be a problem. “If a player’s late, for example, I’ll talk to him, see what’s going on, and if we need to coordinate a ride we can do that,” he said.
Or if a player’s mind is wandering and he’s not listening, “I’ll keep an eye on it. I like to deal with players one-to-one,” he said.
After their 4 p.m. away opener on Dec. 6 against Smithtown Christian, the Islanders’ home opener is next Thursday, Dec. 9 at 4 p.m. in the school gym against the Ross School. They play the Killer Bees of Bridgehampton on their floor on Dec. 13, and then are back home against Pierson on Dec. 16.
Come out and support the Islanders, as they start a fresh season of keeping up the strong, competitive tradition of Shelter Island basketball.