It’s always tough when the best player on a team graduates, especially when he is among the scoring leaders on Long Island, but the East Rockaway boys are banking on an experienced roster and a unique defensive style to make up for it.
The Rocks went 5-2 last winter for their first winning record in any campaign since 2011-12, but Franklin Infante took his 27-point scoring average to SUNY Plattsburgh. Plus, East Rockaway moved to Conference B, where it will have to fight for a playoff spot instead of going straight to the Long Island title game as the lone ‘C’ representative.
Despite all that, head coach Paul Collins is optimistic his team can make a postseason push with a roster that is tight knit both on and off the court.
“The team chemistry, which was good last year, got even better this year,” he said. “They know they need each other. There’s not 26 points from Franklin coming.”
Junior Tyler Hyland and senior Aidan Green each averaged around 11 points last season and Collins thinks both can be even better with more consistency. Hyland had a 23-point game against Locust Valley on Feb. 26, a game that Infante missed.
“He did not look for a shot as much with Franklin on the team,” Collins said. “I’m expecting him to look for a lot more.”
Point guard Joe Lazazzaro will manage the offense and can also hit the jumper. Fellow seniors Joe Giamomona and Eddie Caddle handle the dirty work by setting screens to help the offense.
Green, senior Tyler Poland and sophomore Chris Vertuccio will handle the rebounding responsibilities, with Green recording a 20-board game last season. They are key to a defensive scheme that will show different looks throughout the game. Junior John Giannotti will spell Lazazzaro and is another strong defender.