Fundamentals are key to Boonton comeback

Boonton Mid-Summer Preview

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountyvarsityboysbasketball

Since Boonton had a new coach and was coming off several losing seasons, expectations were not very high last year. The Bombers emerged as a pleasant surprise and Sammy Asani gained more and more attention as one of the area’s top scorers.

“The kids got gradually much better,” Boonton coach Michael London said. “Last year was my first year coaching. It took a little while to get them from the old system to the new system.”

After an 0-6 start, the Bombers finished at 10-15. Although they lost some starters to graduation, Boonton has a strong nucleus returning and expect to build on last year’s positive performances.

Looking Back

The Bombers were 5-13 at one point but rallied late to win five of its last eight games. They had two solid seniors that helped the team develop. After playing man-to-man defense half the season, Boonton adopted a 3-2 zone with Joe McCabe anchoring them.

“He was outstanding last year playing the middle,” London said. “He would stand near the foul line and be lanky enough to get his hands up on shooters.”

McCabe averaged around 15 points a game and also provided plenty of intangibles.

“He was a captain,” London said. “He was a leader. He kept all the kids together. He got everybody involved in doing the right things.”

Hakim Rowe was a scrappy player who made a difference as the season progressed.

“He did all the little things that team need that don’t show up in the papers,” London said. “He rebounded. He set all the good screens. He always boxed out. He was just a hard kid. A real leader on the floor that got kids to play the right way.”

Boonton did not have much success in tournament play. The Bombers were eliminated quickly by Randolph in preliminary round Morris County Tournament competition. They were eliminated in the opening round of state play by New Milford. Obviously, they want to show improvement when it comes to playing in big games.

They did most of their damage against opponents in their conference. Kinnelon, Wallkill Valley, Pequannock and Parsippany Hills are among the teams they were able to defeat.

“The teams in our conference definitely know that they have their hands full with us,” London said.

Looking Forward

Look no further than Asani to know what the Bombers are all about. The Boonton point guard has developed into one of the area’s primary scorers.

“Sami brings creativity,” London said. “We have our set plays but if anything breaks down, Sami is creative enough and quick enough to do it on the fly and make things work for him.”

Asani averaged 22 points a game. He was also efficient on the floor by shooting 46 percent from 3-point range and over 50 percent from the field. He also had three triple-doubles and has improved on defense.

“I’ve been around high school basketball for 10 years and played it myself,” London said. “He’s the best point guard I’ve ever seen play. It’s because of the way he can handle the ball. He’s not getting a lot of looks from college strictly because of his size. Regardless of level and size, i’ve never seen anyone handle the ball like he does.”

Chris D’Avonzo importance will also increase. Pushing toward the 1,000-point milestone, the senior’s offensive skill will be crucial.

“He’s a pure shooter,” London said. “He’s very streaky. Last year he had problems with his back. He didn’t let anyone know. He’s just fought through it. That’s the kind of leader he is. He can have a real break out year.”

Juniors Quinn Sweeney and Connor Davis are also familiar faces. They have been starting since freshmen. Sweeney will be the center and should be active down low. Davis is expected to do the things that Rowe did so ably.

Ali Chaudre started half the games last year and should be able to step up. Farzad Massaq is also a familiar face.

Newcomer Josh Smith will add some much appreciated size to the Bomber front line.

“Josh Smith is a freshman and he’s just an outstanding all-around athlete,” London said. “He’s about 6-foot-4, 180-pounds. That’s a nice addition for us. We can go eight or nine deep on a given night.”

Off-season Exploits

Boonton made its first appearance at the Morris Knolls Summer League and seemed pleased with the work it got in. The Bombers have open gym nights but they suffer from the difficulties that most small schools have.

“We have open gyms once a week over in Boonton,” London said. “We’re just doing the Knolls league. We have a lot of three-sport athletes. It’s tough to get everybody together.”

So London utilizes his time efficiently. No doubt his sessions are jam packed with drills that have his players learning needed skills and re-enforcing the fundamentals.

“We’re just getting back to the basics,” London said. “We want to play good fundamental basketball. A lot of times screens were set because they learned how to do it the way they were supposed to do it. Screen and rolls, always boxing out, going for rebounds, all the small things that they don’t see on Sportscenter.”

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About mcvbb

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

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