Hanover Park’s style has opponents on the run

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountyvarsityboysbasketball

At Hanover Park the New Year started early. If you mean the attitude and determination to go a different path and change the way of doing things in order to achieve a goal, the Hornets have been at it since November.

Hanover Park basketball has shaken their program up and embraced some tenets of the Grinnell College system that has worked so well for Mount Olive the last few years. As a result the Hornets are 4-2 with an offense that consistently scores in the high 70-point range.

“It’s still a lot of what we’ve always done but we’ve kind of taken a pair of jumper cables to it,” Hanover Park coach Todd Hartman said. “I have a lot of kids that scrap and it is the hardest working group that I’ve ever had. They are a very together group. It’s been 12 years of me doing things a certain way. I thought that this would be the right group to juice it up a little bit and put some elements of the Grinnell system in there and still do the stuff that we do.”

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Hanover Park coach Todd Hartman is making his Hornets push the tempo. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

The Grinnell style emphasizes aggressive offensive play and focuses on the 3-point shot usually taken in the first 10 seconds of possession. Defensively, the Hornets use a variety of zone and man pressures, usually at full and three-quarter court. It disrupts an opponents offense and forces the tempo.

“We love the uptempo play,” Hanover Park’s Brad Daugherty said. “We’ve been working hard in practice. We’ve been playing in shape and we think we can play with anyone. Teams get gassed. We wear out teams. It’s a new group of five every two minutes and it’s just fresh legs.”

Hanover Park has depth this year. They will play up to 14 players on their roster in any given game. Often they all get in by halftime. In the Hornets’ opening game, they had 19 rotations of players they listed for whatever matchup they want. The style of play was introduced by Hartman during tryouts.

“We are pretty much drilled in what we have to do,” Hanover Park’s John Crown said. “It’s instinct really. Once you get into the game you just have to follow your instinct, be aggressive and once you get to the rim it’s pretty easy. … We are getting a lot of kids in. Fresh legs helps, everybody gets to contribute. It boosts everyone’s morale. Everybody is into it. It’s a fun way to play.”

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The fast paced play gives scorers like John Crown more open looks. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

The style got off to a rousing start. In the team’s opening game, an 89-80 win against Morris Catholic on December 19, Hanover Park led from start to finish. It was the best way to attack Crusaders’ talented forward Amir Allen, which would have been a tough match up for them in the half court.

“There was no way we were going to be taller than they were,” Hartman said. “There’s no way we were going to be — man to man — more talented. We don’t have some of the athletic intangibles that we had but we focused on what we do well.”

19 bb hpmcDonnie Dattolo (31) and Brad Daugherty (23) are part of a balanced and unselfish squad at Hanover Park. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

The Hornets thought they were overlooked in pre-season previews and Hartman said he would match his trio of John Crown, Brad Daugherty and Donnie Dattolo to anyone in the area. It helps that they are unselfish players willing to buy into a system that may not be a hit with everybody. There are times this season when the shots don’t fall, the fouls add up and the opposing team spends most of the game knocking down free throws.

However, every once in awhile its good to shake things up. For now, the frenetic, past-paced, swarming style of play suits the Hornets.

“We all enjoy it,” Daugherty said. “It pumps us all up. We take threes. We love pressing and we love pushing the ball.”

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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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