Saturday, January 11, 2014

Basketball Grits One Out Over Saints, Goes to 4-0

As mentioned in a post at the very beginning of the basketball season, we offered the opinion that this season may be one of those 'tweener' years for Coach Gomes and his team - very good talent, but talent that may still need the seasoning and the proper amount of time to simmer to perfection. Next season certainly seems very, very bright; however, the talent that the Hawks have on this year's squad makes one wonder just how far they can go as they start to come together.

The past two games are case in point. On Tuesday night, our guys downed Woonsocket by the seemingly convincing score of 60-40, but the score, as they say, does not tell the whole story. That game was more a case of a 'tale of two halves', as the Hawks were generally flat during the first part of the game, so much so that that may have been Coach Gomes's thinking in sending out onto the floor a somewhat different look for the beginning of the second half - Kyle Henseler and Matt Duffie at the guards, Justin Mazzulla and EJ Nygren down low, and Andrew Ciaciarelli manning the middle. The result was the Hawks' taking off and dispatching the Villa Novans going away.

Last night - in a game broadcast live right here on The Network - Coach Gomes apparently decided to try the same mix of five to start the game against St. Ray's, a tough, defensive-minded club that's been holding its opponents to fairly low point totals. At the outset of the game, it seemed that the decision to go with the 'new' starting five might once again pay dividends, as the Hawks came out of the gate fast, as evidenced by the opening play of the game:

Virtually the entire second half of last night's game can be seen above in the central UStream viewer at the top of the page. We unfortunately experienced some wi-fi difficulties at the most inopportune time - the closing minutes of and intense, close game - but the clips of Matt Duffie's three huge free throws down the stretch are included. The entire first half of the contest can be seen here:
Video streaming by Ustream

The Hawks quickly opened a somewhat sizable early lead, and this different-look starting lineup seemed to be working well together; but, just as things seemed to be coming together as hoped for our guys, The Saints settled in and gradually planted their aggressive defense firmly into the Pepin Gym floor and made it very difficult for the Hawks to score as the game unfolded. In fact, their pesky aggressiveness was even on display when they had the ball, as they more often than not gave the Hawks fits on the glass, working hard to get what Coach Gomes would no doubt consider far too many second-chance shots by securing a bunch of offensive rebounds, a problem that plagued the Hawks in the second game of the BABC against Windsor. 

The rebounding issue, along with some tough defense, seemed to resolve itself with Ira Lough, Garfield Coustard, and Will Parmlee coming off the bench, as all three contributed to helping lock down the inside and grab some boards. Lough even contributed several blocked shots.

As the game went on, there were more than a few instances when it seemed that the Hawks would take control of the game. EJ Nygren was hitting his outside shots,

and there were many times when our guys looked good in transition and in following up their own plays:

As mentioned above, though, the Hawks continually had to show the physical and mental toughness to fight off the Saints, and the game came down to Matt Duffie's handling the pressure of three crucial free throws:

So, the Hawks go to 4-0 with the win. After the game, Coach Gomes commented on the win and his thoughts on his team so far:

The Hawks will be in action next week on Monday and Wednesday. On Monday night the Hawks will travel to North Kingstown, and on Wednesday they'll host Cranston West in Pepin Gym, a game that is scheduled to broadcast live, right here on The Network.

Remember to stay with #hawkssportsnet for as much coverage as we can muster for all winter sports.