Garnets Must Ace Chemistry Test to Change Season’s Direction

Critics were quick to assail the Miami Heat and their star-studded roster when the franchise stumbled out of the gate to a 9-8 record this season. Although most understood it would take time for Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh to gel, barbs were nevertheless launched in South Beach’s direction.

The Heat promptly won 21 of their next 22 games.

Rye boys’ basketball head coach Chris DiCintio feels the chemistry issues that ailed Miami early are similar to those his 5-5 Garnets are currently experiencing.

Matt Keough

“You have to have chemistry,” said DiCintio. “It took the Heat nearly 20 games to learn that, but in high school our season is over after 20 games. We have to expedite what they did – learn to play and share the ball with one another – or the season will pass us by and we’ll lose the opportunity to use the talent we have to compete for a Section title.”

Mother Nature certainly hasn’t helped Rye’s cause. By the time the Garnets host Horace Greeley January 31, it will have been an astonishing 40 days since their last home game. Two Friday night home contests, which players always look forward to, have already been sacrificed to the weather gods.

With eight games remaining before the Section playoffs begin, DiCintio knows his team has to hit the floor running. The test begins with a tilt at rival Harrison January 29. The Huskies defeated Rye 73-63 in the schools’ first meeting. While the Garnets haven’t played to their potential, there are a variety of reasons to believe they’ll find consistency and become, as DiCintio puts it, “a very difficult out in the playoffs”.

Senior captain Brian Pickup is one of those reasons to believe. The All-Conference player was Rye’s leading scorer last year, averaging around 15 points per game. While Pickup’s scoring is down, it isn’t because he’s shooting poorly. He has become a facilitator on offense thanks to the cache of weapons – Conor Smith, Chris and Max Twyman, and Mike D’Antoni, among others – at his disposal.

“Brian has truly become a leader and captain in the sense of taking a back seat when it comes to scoring,” said DiCintio. “I recently spoke with him, to commend him on what he’s trying to do. But we <do> want him to increase his scoring because being so unselfish can make him less of a threat the opposition has to key on.”

The team hopes that if Pickup’s points per game increase, it will open up additional opportunities for his teammates, like fellow senior captain Smith.

“Conor’s situation is a little different,” DiCintio noted. “He’s also trying to get kids involved, but we look at him more as a scoring guard whose job it is to put up points. The coaching staff has to do a better job at getting him more shots and Conor needs to be taking those shots and not giving up opportunities to score.”

Rye’s remaining schedule is daunting, with games against Port Chester, Byram Hills, Fox Lane, Sleepy Hollow, and Class B power Valhalla.

“To me, watching the game, we don’t have a real fluidity, we don’t seem to be in sync,” said DiCintio. “They certainly never quit, but we’re not clicking offensively. I know that nobody wants to hear my problems, though. I’m a seasoned coach and our players are big boys who understand no one will cry for us. I’m hopeful that we’re developing a chip on our shoulder big enough to do something about it.”


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