John Rossetti witnessed an unusual sight when the Riverhead boys basketball team gathered for its first official practice of the 2014 season last week. For the first time in three years, all the players coming out for the team were on the court.
It’s a familiar Catch-22 for Rossetti at the start of every season. Many of Riverhead’s basketball players also play football in the fall.
And the football team tends to do well.
So well, that the past two seasons, the football team’s run to the Long Island Championship kept the basketball players off the court for nearly two weeks as football season stretched into the winter sports season.
“Obviously you want to see your football team go as far as possible,” Rossetti said. “But it is also nice to have everyone back and on the same page the first day.”
The football team’s loss in the semifinals of the Division II playoffs Nov. 15 allowed for the basketball team to begin its 2014 season with its full complement of players. One player, however, has still been sidelined from an injury during football season.
Ryun Moore, who was a key player on the basketball team last winter as a sophomore, suffered a concussion prior to the football team’s semifinal playoff game. Rossetti said Moore is still recovering from that concussion. He hopes to have Moore back on the court this week once he’s cleared by the medical staff.
Rossetti is hopeful that injury won’t linger for Moore during basketball season.
“We expect to see him on the court,” he said.
Moore will be one of the top returners from a team that relied heavily on a sophomore class last year. The Blue Waves, after winning a league title in 2012-13, took an expected step back last year with a young team centered around Brandon Tolliver, who has since graduated.
The Blue Waves will rely mostly on their junior class this year — 11 players on the roster are juniors, Rossetti said.
“We are returning three kids that have significant varsity experience,” he said.
Moore, Tyrese Kerr and Lintell Brown are three of those key players.
Senior Ethan Greenidge will provide a big post presence for the Blue Waves. Greenidge is coming off a monster season playing on the offensive and defensive lines for the football team.
“He’s going to give some teams some problems,” Rossetti said. “He’s got some serious size. He’s going to be tough for people to deal with.”
Rossetti hopes the experience the sophomores got on the court last year will pay off this season.
“Last year was a true sign of a young team,” he said. “We started three sophomores most of the time, sometimes four. Those kids got quality playing experience, which translates them this year to understanding the flow of the game, the physicality of the game, what you need to do in crunch time in terms of taking care of the basketball.”
The Blue Waves just got into the flow of practices this week after holding tryouts last week. The Blue Waves will scrimmage for the first time Saturday at Mattituck. They’ll also host East Hampton Dec. 2 and Mount Sinai Dec. 4 in preparation for the non-league opener Dec. 12 at home against Bellport.