Harlem hopes to speed up standings

By Matt Nestor
Sports Columnist

With a new coach, Chad Barger, in tow, the Harlem Huskies are ready to put last season’s struggles behind them. And they hope to run as fast as they can to do so.

The Huskies lack any size to speak of, and will be among the smallest teams in the conference. But what they lack in size, they will more than make up for with speed and depth.

Harlem is going to look to run early and often this year, led by a deep backcourt that hopes to run teams into submission.

“We have a lot of quickness,” Barger said. “We have a lot of guards, so we want to put that to use. We want to get up and down the court. The kids enjoy that tempo. I think we have 12 or 13 players who can go in on any day and contribute. I don’t know who else in the conference can go that deep.”

The trick, according to Barger, is trying to rein in that speed. He said that it can cause some uneven play with the ball, but when the players have the speed down, it can be just as hard for opposing teams to stop.

“We talk about being quick, but not being in a hurry. Right now, we’re just in a hurry,” he said. “It’s coming with a lot of turnovers and sloppy play right now, but we’re going to fix that. We’re throwing a lot at them right now.”

Other than size, Harlem also lacks experience. They have nine talented juniors on their team, including Cody DiGiovanni, Jordan Baxter, Josh Barrett and Brenton Benedict, who is recovering from a knee injury.

But luckily for Harlem, the few seniors they do have will be key contributors for them. Players like Keegan Andrews, Alex Ghinazzi and Tre Wagner got a lot of varsity experience last year, and have used that to guide their young teammates.

“We’re relatively inexperienced,” Barger said. “All of our seniors have shown great leadership, have worked really hard [and] I think it’s going to pay off for them.”

Ultimately, Barger hopes the frantic pace they will play gives them an opportunity to move up in the standings. There are a lot more unknowns going into the season, which should make for some very good nights in the NIC-10.

“I think we’re a top-half of the conference team,” he said. “I think the conference is really deep right now. It should be a fun NIC-10 season. I think four or five losses this year could win the conference. Every night is going to be a dog fight.”

From the Nov. 24-30, 2010 issue

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