Peabody Tanners basketball is back and after three days of intense competition, running, and evaluation the team has finalized their roster for the 2015/2016 season.
After several months of training I decided to put it all on the line and give it a go at tryouts, buying in to make the team and instill a Boston Celtics mentality of constant hustle. The feeling probably originated in falling in love with the game over the last year while covering the NBA online.
There was great competition and better yet, an emphasis on hustle which I always love to see as an energy player myself. Overall it was an unforgettable experience and nfortunately I fell just short in making the team.
I can't say the process didn't come without it's benefits though.
Many were able to grind their way in and join the current core; which contains a mix of contributors from last year and those breaking into the regular rotation for the first time.
Preparing for tryouts; which involved continuing my regular fall conditioning as well as joining some players who stepped up and organized preseason scrimmages allowed me to get to know a number of fantastic people and feel out their games playing side by side.
With all that said, here is this year's roster with some of my hot takes on what they can provide on the court.
Mental Notes I took during the preseason and at tryouts (Players signified as front court [F/C] or back court [G] simply because in my mind that's how players are best utilized in today's basketball)
Back Court: Jonathan Lawrence
High level passer, combo guard, sound defender, experience playing with last year's team. Competes with great confidence and has a high basketball IQ from practically a lifetime on the court. Starting quality but could be a driving force with the second unit.
Back Court: Matthew D'Amato
Pure-scorer, with the all-around tools to lead the team in that area. Shooting range, excellent finisher at the basket, and has the ability to get to the foul line by putting up shots in traffic. Best at winning one on one battles in isolation. Needs to make smart decisions as a combo guard, especially considering he's stronger on the ball than off.
Back/front court: Jake Doherty
May be a stretch, but plays in a style similar to prime Paul Pierce. Grit and grind approved. Amazing build for his height, uses his strength to his advantage on both sides of the floor, has shooting ability from most areas on the court. Brings an important toughness from the football field to the court. Could be a force in the pick-and-roll especially with his face-up game at the rim. Doherty may be the most versatile player this roster has. Has the athletic ability to play both forward spots.
Front court: Ben Shmase
Not quick on his feet but a very polished offensive player. Stretch power forward with a great build and height. Can bang around inside, get to the rim off shot fakes, and step outside to hit three-pointers. Strong rebounder. Could be a force in both pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop games. Entering senior season as strong candidate to start at the 4.
Front court: Moisse Irizarry
In simple terms, an elite defensive player and the heart of the team on that end. Had several 10+ block games a year ago and looks like a lock to start at center in his junior year. Blocks shots, rebounds at a high rate, can even step outside and defend on the perimeter. Constant energy and an athlete in every sense of the word. Still working on developing an offensive game with mid rangers and post-moves.
Front court: Junior Estrella
The possible x-factor for this roster. Athleticism that surpasses any other player on the roster. Can play above the rim, finish at the basket through traffic, great in-between game with high pull-up jumpers and floaters. Active on the offensive boards. Showed to be a run-starter by putting up a heavy load of points in short time but also burned out quickly in doing so. Looks like a perfect candidate for a 6th-man role, but could start as he did a year ago. Defensive ability has increased vastly, showing off his shot-blocking ability left and right. Takes risks, is very long, and is an ideal playmaking small forward despite turnovers. Still learning English in just his second year at the school but able to communicate through Irizarry.
Back court: Jake Gustin
Joining the team for the first time after breaking his foot freshman year. Playmaking guard who can pass, shoot, and finish at a high enough rate to start right away. Makes things happen and rebounds extremely well for a guard. Will need to grow and adjust in his first year of high school basketball but showed an intense drive consistently through the preseason.
Back court: Dhimitri Bido
Doesn't have as many skills offensively as the other guards on the roster but makes up for it with a high motor and defensive energy. Able to steal balls, step up against bigger players, and create issues on the ball. Glad to see him on this team, because those skills are very important, but will have to fight for playing time on a guard-heavy roster.
Back/front court: Christian Teehan
Very intriguing senior who found playing time last year. Scrappy swingman who can finish at the rim and defend on the perimeter, versatility that will suit him well. Solid all-around shooter. Looks to be a valuable two-way player off the bench.
Front court: Will Diezemann
Big body who should be able to find minutes with the team's lack of depth in the front-court. Showed to be a capable rebounder but will need to impose his will physically inside at both ends to be effective. May be able to step out for some mid-rangers.
Back court: Vasili Stefanopoulos
Prides himself on the three-point shot like his idol Steph Curry. As Curry did early in his career, he is working on adding an in-between game and improving his finishing ability. High basketball IQ, often makes the right plays, should be able to break into more playing time in his senior year. Plays off the ball and shoots best off the pass with spacing. Playing time could be determined by how effectively he creates his own shot.
Front court: Chibukim Onoahu
Lone freshman on the roster which would typically signify a lack of minutes but that may not be the case with Peabody's aforementioned lack of depth in the front court. A long, thin frame with height will best suit him for the power forward position. Attacks the boards with ferocity and is a promising rim protector. Has a mid-range shot. Could be a help to this team with his intensity as he develops.
Back court: Josh Callahan
One of the more surprising standouts at tryouts and fought hard enough to break into a roster already loaded with guards, which says something about his drive and determination. But he will now face the second challenge of breaking through for minutes as this team is currently constructed. Showed off ability to make passes through tight holes and shoot all over the floor. Like Stefanopoulos, his minutes may be tied in how effectively he can create his own shots.