Dutch take basketball season day by day
The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael
Dribble drive: Sophomore Kayla Herbst flies past a Maple Hill defender for Guilderland during a scrimmage on Monday; Herbst made a buzzer-beating three-pointer in the contest. The Dutch were 9-10 last season, losing to Columbia in the first round of the Class AA playoffs.
GUILDERLAND — A full season of basketball can be menacing and stressful, so the Guilderland girls’ team is taking this year one day at a time.
The Dutch’s team slogan is “Today,” Head Coach Frank Cacckello said after Monday’s scrimmage against Maple Hill at home. “We’re going to focus on today,” he said.
Judging by Guilderland’s intense hustle and systematic execution against Maple Hill, Monday was an excellent day for the Dutch. The team built off the experience it got from scrimmaging Albany High and Horsehead (Section 4), two of the states top teams, last Saturday.
“At no point were we down on each other tonight,” said Guilderland junior Caitlin Corbett on Monday. “We never dropped our heads, and made sure to get back on defense if we lost the ball. We always make sure that we’re there for each other.”
Cacckello told The Enterprise that the scrimmage was productive. This season, the Dutch are running an open-post offense, which is a change from last year. This is a good offense to use if the team has quick players, or lacks a real threat in the post.
“Basically, any player can play any position,” said Cacckello of the offense. “It’s exciting; the kids can get a little more basketball out of it.”
Also, Guilderland shared the basketball well, which increased the efficiency. There are no winners or losers in a scrimmage, but the Dutch looked like the victor.
“We’re learning to play together, cutting and moving together,” Cacckello said. “That’s important. We came here tonight and did our business.”
Guilderland is returning six players from last year — Corbett, Zibby Eckhardt, Mackenzie Lozano, Michelle Papandrea, Olivia Baumann, and Sunshine Edwards. New to the team are Rebecca Golderman, Carli Weinberg, Nicole Fyvie, Kayla Herbst, and Bailey Krelic. Golderman was dominant under the basket Monday night, and Weinberg made a few great hustle plays to save the ball from going out of bounds.
There was a constant rotation of Guilderland players throughout the scrimmage in an attempt to find out what roster combinations work the best, Eckhardt said. With definitive depth, Cacckello believes that the Dutch can trade positions among the players.
“We need to see how successful our chemistry can be on the court,” said Eckhardt, who knocked down some difficult jump shots. “Since we have this chemistry, we can trust each other a lot more. We’re patient this year, so we can see open cuts…We’re able to get the ball to our teammates and successfully score.”
Cacckello said that Guilderland has been “lighting up” the scoreboard in scrimmages so far this preseason. “We put the ball in the basket when we have the open shots,” he said. “We didn’t always do that last Saturday, but we did tonight.”
On the defensive side, the Dutch didn’t allow Maple Hill many easy baskets. “Most of their scoring was off broken plays, situations that are hard to control,” Cacckello added. “Defensively, we’re very good at pressuring the ball.”
Corbett and Eckhardt spent the off season traveling the country with their Amateur Athletic Union basketball team, and Cacckello said that the six returning players are much improved. “These kids have played a lot of ball, and I think we have a great mix going,” he said.
Guilderland never had bad chemistry in the past, but it may be enhanced for the 2013-14 season. Although, Corbett did say that her team was a bit “disconnected” last year.
“Now, we’re so tight as a team; we all really love basketball and all really want to play,” said Corbett. “We’ve never been this close before. We all want to be here, and we all enjoy each other. That’s something we haven’t had in a while.”
Despite having a very young roster last season, Guilderland finished 9-10 overall. The Dutch are still youthful this year; Lozano is the only senior.
“Generally, chemistry is built on being able to root for someone else, not just yourself,” Cacckello said. “A lot of that is going on.”
Also, winning can further fuel a team’s spark. Cacckello says that the competition level between the Dutch players is “unbelievably good,” and that the rank of talent has risen, so he’ll see if that can multiply to more victories.
“We have a lot of potential,” Eckhardt said. “I think we can get further and win a lot more games if we continue to work like we have right now.”
Cacckello is very pleased with how Guilderland is playing, but thinks the Dutch can play even better. Guilderland opens the season at home against defending Suburban Council champion Bethlehem on Dec. 6.
“We should all be expecting a lot,” Corbett said. “We have a lot to show.”