Rams boast high expectations


For the first time in more than 15 years, someone other than Ed Cosgrove is West Hempstead boys’ basketball’s bench boss.

Joe Thomas takes over the helm of the Rams and saw a resurgence of interest at tryouts. He kept 14 on the roster and feels the team’s athleticism can separate it from the pack in a wide-open Conference B/C which includes defending county champion Malverne, Friends Academy and East Rockaway.

“It was nice the kids got to play last season but it was tough on them playing in front of hardly any fans,” Thomas said. “The competitiveness is back to where it used to be and I think we can make a name for ourselves and do really well.”

The new coach said he’s challenged senior Simeon Simms, a 6-foot-7 presence in the frontcourt entering his third varsity campaign, to break the program’s single-season shot-blocking record. “He has the talent to dominate on the boards and is capable of a double-double any night,” Thomas said of Simms, who was slowed early in camp by an ankle injury.

Senior Jourdan Mitchell is another big forward and brings the ability to guard anyone on the defensive end. He’s another double-double candidate, Thomas noted, and is a passionate multisport athlete. Senior wing Zadrian Budhoo will help set the defensive tone and create turnovers in addition to chipping in some offense with his moves to the rim.

Senior captain Eli Rubin’s shooting talents from the outside will help the Rams stretch defenses in the half-court, Thomas said. “He’s our best shooter and a leader,” the coach noted. Freshman Isaiah Blunt is a talented lefty point guard with plenty of AAU experience. “It’s just a matter of him getting acclimated to the speed of the varsity game,” Thomas said. Junior newcomer Chris Altidor, another lefty, is a quick guard who passes well and can score.