By ALEX SPONSELLER The Cranston West boys basketball team is gearing up for its winter season and has undergone quite a bit of change since last year. Between a new coach and graduating 10 seniors, the Falcons will be relying on a young group to make an
By ALEX SPONSELLER The Cranston West boys basketball team is gearing up for its winter season and has undergone quite a bit of change since last year.
Between a new coach and graduating 10 seniors, the Falcons will be relying on a young group to make an impact early. Marcus Chung and Preston Kermen will be the elder statesmen on the floor and will see big minutes to start the season.
In his first season at the helm, new coach Matt Fontaine is excited to get the ball rolling will this new group.
“With only two players with significant varsity minutes and four seniors overall, it’s kind of a wide open situation. It’s exciting, though, we’re still raw and no one really knows who we are,” said Fontaine, who has already seen some chemistry between the players. “These guys have been playing together for awhile now. Many of them have played together in CLCF and JV which is helpful. Also, coaching within the division (at Pilgrim) has also been helpful.”
Although the team may face some growing pains in the early going, Fontaine and his staff are excited to get to work with fresh faces and expect the Falcons to be able to compete.
“You can look at it either way. A clean slate makes it an easier transition, but you hope for some experience, too. You have to go with what you’ve got, and it’s been awesome so far and they’ve been working. We played East Providence on Saturday and hung with them, I felt like we belonged there, so I’m excited to see what we can do,” said Fontaine.
A big factor will be the schedule. The RIIL is back to having a full, 18-game slate after playing a shortened schedule last year due to the pandemic. With many of these players never having experienced a full varsity season, Fontaine hopes to see the kids embrace the challenge.
“It’s a long year, it’s 18 games. Early on, it’s about building an identity and understanding what we want to do. Letting guys know our standards and building off that. Some of these guys have not experienced a full slate of games, so we need to make sure they know what it takes to play an 18-game schedule,” said Fontaine. “It’s a lot of games, long bus rides, grueling practices. We need to be on top of it.”
Now, back at his alma mater, Fontaine is looking forward to establishing a new culture at West while maintaining the strong community feel that is already present.
“When (the hiring) was announced and everything happened, it was a quick process. Being back in this gym, having so many Cranston West grads helping out, wishing us luck, it’s been pretty cool,” Fontaine said. “It drives me to want to meet their expectations. It’s about making sure that the kids have the same experience that I had here and that’s the exciting part.”
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