There’s an old adage that says postseason basketball is a lot like starting the season all over again.
For Schenectady coach Eric Loudis, he’s taking that statement literally.
Loudis said he is going back to basics when his Patriots visit the Guilderland Dutchmen in tonight’s Section II Class AA first-round test.
“I’m treating this like it’s the beginning of the season. Everybody is 0-0,” said Loudis, whose team finished the regular season 9-9. “I’m really approaching this game like it’s our first game. We’ve been looking at our basic fundamentals in practice, like dribbling, setting solid screens and communication on defense. We’re even working on using the backboard on our layups. The kids should know all that stuff, but we’ve been reinforcing it all week.”
Loudis said that he and his staff have been reminding the players that the biggest difference between this game and any other during the year is that a loss means you’re done.
“I don’t know if our younger kids realize that,” Loudis said. “We only have three kids who played a lot for me last year, but the reality is that some of them may never step onto a court for a regulation game again after this. I’ve been reminding our seniors about that.”
Loudis said he’s not even sure about his starting lineup, which has changed several times throughout the year.
“Outside of Darius [Macon] and Cody [Shafer], I’m not sure who will start,” he said. “We’ve been trying to play the boys who have been the most consistent for us. Ranging from 1 to 13, whoever puts me in the best position to win will play. There will be no favoritism. Work ethic is the key.”
Macon has been the Patriots’ most productive player. The 6-foot-5 senior averages 14.3 points and nearly six blocked shots a game.
“Darius has the ability to score both inside and outside, but it’s defensively where he really has the most prowess,” said Loudis. “He can help out the other defenders and makes them look better. He gets a lot of blocked shots and deflections. If one of our guys gets beat, Darius can come over and still block the shot. He makes a big difference for us. In the beginning of the year, his jumper was falling. Now, we’re trying to make him a more all-around player for us.”
Macon is the only double-digit scorer for the Patriots. Clarence Stanford (9.4 ppg) is the best three-point shooting threat with 23 treys.
“We need to play fundamentally sound against Guilderland,” Loudis said. “They’ve got quite a few guys who can score and shoot three-pointers. They are similar to us, but they have a few more scorers. If we come out and play our game, and play with intensity, we can win this one.”
Guilderland coach Ron Osinski said he’s happy to be playing a Big 10 opponent in the opening round rather than last year, when he opened up against league rival Saratoga Springs.
“It’s nice to see a different kind of team,” he said. “Last year, when we played Saratoga, they already knew a lot about us. This time, we’ll see a Big 10 athlete against a Suburban Council athlete. It will be a challenge for us, because we’ll have to play all 32 minutes to win this game. We’re a team that must come out and play hard for 32 minutes, and for some of the games, especially at the end of the season, we didn’t do that. It was more about our emotion than about our physical play.”
The 12-6 Dutchmen feature four double-figure scorers, led by 6-4 Mark DuMoulin (13.1 ppg). Vincent Simone (12.3 ppg), Andrew Platek (10.9 ppg) and Brian Crupi (10.8 ppg) are the other players in twin figures. Platek (31 three-pointers) is the leading perimeter threat.
“We were a little banged up at the end of the year,” Osinski said. “Our league had a lot of parity this year, and outside of the top two or three teams, it was a toss-up in most cases. We didn’t shoot the three very well in our last couple of games, but we did shoot the twos well. I feel good about that. Defensively, we know what we’ve got to do.”
Osinski said his team lacked size and tried to make up for it with three-point shooting.
“Shooting the three and relying it on throughout the year is a tough thing to do,” he said. “We had to do it more because of our size differential, but that hurt us against the bigger teams, like Averill Park.”
The rest of the Class AA schedule pits Albany at Shaker, Columbia at LaSalle, Saratoga Springs at Troy, Catholic Central at Bethlehem, Ballston Spa at CBA, Bishop Maginn at Shenendehowa and Colonie at Green Tech.