By Rob Tetro
The Hannibal boys’ varsity basketball team will take the court with just a few goals for the upcoming season.
Coach Mat Burridge said his team wants to be a team that has scholar athletes, shows improvement on a daily basis and is in position to qualify for Sectional Play at the end of the regular season.
This season, the Warriors will be without many of the players who produced offensively for them a year ago. Hannibal will feature only two starters from last years’ team.
However, both players have two years of experience playing at the varsity level and will be assisted by the presence of two others who played for the Warriors last season.
In-season practice began for Hannibal Nov. 11. Many players had recently concluded fall sports such as football and cross country. But Burridge points out that just because his players were physically capable of playing one sport doesn’t mean that they will be immediately prepared for basketball season.
In fact, such was the case for his team when practices began. During the first few days of practice, his team was not in very good physical condition. Since then, the Warriors have spent a lot of time developing their physical condition with a lot of running in order to be ready for what can be a long and vigorous season.
Burridge suggests his team’s overall physical conditioning isn’t quite where he expects it to be. However, he does feel that his team’s physical conditioning is coming along. “We are not where we want to be but we are progressing.”, Burridge said.
Burridge is yet to name captains for the upcoming season. However, he makes it known that he expects his captains to be players who lead by example on and off the court.
He also suggests that leadership isn’t defined by what grade a player is in or how much skill he has. “You don’t have to be a senior or the best player to be a captain but a leader.”, Burridge said.
Hannibal plays in Class B, Section 3 which is considered one of the toughest leagues in all of New York State Basketball. Burridge expects to see his team challenged to the max every time they take the court this season. “Every game (will be) difficult and any team can win in our league on any given night.”, he said.
The Warriors are expected to be one of the taller teams in their league this season. Burridge hopes having a height advantage in most games will help Hannibal develop its defensive abilities into a pivotal strength.
“We are hoping our defense can be our anchor this year and be our strong point.”, he said. “Defense will keep us in every game this year.”