Boys Basketball Preview: Defense the key for SWR

ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO  |  Shoreham-Wading River senior John Kovach is a captain for the Wildcats along with senior Robbie Bray.
ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior John Kovach is a captain for the Wildcats along with senior Robbie Bray.

At times last year, the offense for Shoreham-Wading River became the Kevin Davis show. From the first game of the season when he scored 42 points against Hampton Bays, to the playoff loss against Islip when he scored 30, Davis had the ability to carry the Wildcats.

Now with Davis gone, along with the outside threat of Ryan McAlary, the Wildcats enter the 2011-12 season trying to blend together a new mix of players on offense.

“I think with us it’s going to be offensive execution,” said Shoreham coach Kevin Culhane. “We don’t have Kevin Davis to bail us out going one-on-one if we needed it.”

What the Wildcats (10-9 last year) may lack in some of the offensive power, they make up for with a tall, athletic defensive group that has the ability to create match-up problems for opponents.

The Wildcats will rely on the basics to succeed this season: defense and rebounding. And as the season progresses, the offense they hope will continue to come along.

Culhane said four of the team’s starters are at least 6-foot-3.

The top returning scorer for the Wildcats is forward John Kovach, who was an all-league player last year as a starter. Culhane said Kovach has gotten bigger and stronger this season.

Chris Mahoney is another returning forward who saw time last year. Mahoney has good size and can score off offensive rebounds. He also has the ability to hit shots from the outside.

Jono Criscito gives the Wildcats another big man down low who has a nice touch on a mid-range jumper.

Kevin Turano will run the point for Shoreham.

“His outside shooting will be somewhat of a key for us,” Culhane said. “He handles the ball very well. And he’s improved eons from last year.”

Robbie Bray will play alongside Turano at the other guard. He’s another player who’s improved a lot, Culhane said, and at 6-3, can create havoc at the top of a zone defense with his size. Bray is a co-captain along with Kovach.

“I think in some ways defensively we might be a little better,” Culhane said. “Obviously offense, that’s going to be our challenge.”

Tim Rotanz will provide a spark off the bench. At 6-1, Rotanz has the ability to play a number of different positions.

While the team is mostly inexperienced at the varsity level, Culhane said the players put in a lot of work during the offseason to prepare for the season. And they did it with mostly multi-sport athletes.

“We played a fall league, spring league, summer camp at Stony Brook and a summer league,” Culhane said. “So we got a lot of experience that helped the guys out a lot.”

The Wildcats played their first scrimmage against McGann-Mercy with mixed results.

“Typical first scrimmage,” Culhane said. “At times we looked brilliant running the offense and times we looked like we were from Mars. I thought we played some good man-to-man defense and some good zone defense.”

The Wildcats open the non-league season Friday at Sayville. They kick off the League VI season Dec. 20 at home against Westhampton.

Culhane said he expects Amityville to be the toughest competition within the league. Mount Sinai should also be near the top of the league.

“Amityville’s the king of the hill,” Culhane said. “They’re really loaded.”

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