Connolly ready to take over at Morristown High

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountyvarsityboys basketball

If there is a blueprint for success at Morristown High School basketball, new coach Bill Connolly is determined to find it.

The Colonials new basketball coach is anxious to get started. He has already implemented some plans that will help the team usher in a new era. He comes to Morristown High after assistant coaching stints in Montgomery and Mendham. He replaces Ricky Osborne whose legacy at Morristown High included Morris County Tournament titles in 2001 and 2002.

“I met the kids about a month ago,’’ Connolly said. “They showed a willingness to learn and make a commitment.

“As a team I want us to be well rounded. The ability to defend is important but we want to do all the things that will make us a good team dribble, pass, cut, screen  …’’

The 31-year-old coach grew up inWarwick, New Yorkand played both baseball and basketball on the varsity level. The 1998 graduate went on to play baseball at the University of Scranton and earned a business degree.

After college he had a brief but interesting job editing game films for the NBA.

“It was tough,’’ Connolly said. “We worked out of Secaucus. We would break down game films. Like let’s say Stephon Marbury was playing. We would break down everything he did and put it up so NBA teams could access it.’’

His coaching at the high school level began with the help of Kris Grundy, a former West Morris standout. He found success coaching players on the jayvee level, helping athletes that would eventually give the school a Group IV sectional title in 2010.

He moved on to coaching and teaching (business) in Mendham and has been significantly influenced by lessons he learned while inside the Minutemen program and the teachings of Mendham coach Jim Baglin.

“Coach Baglin took me under his wing from day one,’’ Connolly said. “He’s been a teaching mentor and a role model for me. A couple of words just can’t describe his impact on my career – basketball wise.’’

Apart from coaching the freshmen, Connolly worked a lot with the Mendham players in the offseason including preparation for camps. His in-season duties included writing scouting reports on the Minutemen opponents, something that should already give him familiarity with the NJAC-National Division which the Colonials reside.

The Morristown team has struggled in recent years despite having some talented athletes. Last season, Morristownfinished with an 8-18 record, but did have one significant highlight when it knocked out top-seeded Pequannock in the opening round of the Morris County Tournament. However, Morristown had to deal with both injury and off-court incidents that hampered the team’s success. The Colonials lost seven of their last 10 games including an opening round state tournament contest to Livingston.

Connolly learned about the job opening in September. Once he was officially hired he could barely contain his excitement and enthusiasm and went right to work. He has already given the Colonials some work to do in preparation for the upcoming season.

“I laid out a plan for them and showed them what they can do to improve,’’ Connolly said. “We had open gyms and weight room. On Sunday nights we played at the fall league at Immaculata. There are 12 teams in the league. Morristown, Mendham and Randolph play from Morris County but it’s mostly Somerset Count teams — Hillsborough, Immaculata, Watchung Hills – It’s a very good league.’’

Connolly will stress defense and like any coach he wants to take advantage of the athletic talent that the Colonials have in abundance.

He will learn how difficult his job will be at the very beginning of the season.Morristownopens up its varsity season against Mendham and Connolly will be coaching against his former students.

“That will be interesting,’’ Connolly said.


About mcvbb

Mark Kitchin is a boys varsity basketball writer for the Morris County New Jersey area

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