BASKING RIDGE, NJ -- It may sound like a contradiction, but, while the Ridge boys basketball team might need a little time to gel this season, the Red Devils often will look like a team in a hurry.
The first situation is the result of the team's relative youth. Head coach Brian Feath has a fairly young lineup and regular rotation, and figures the team will look more cohesive in mid-January than it might in mid-December. But, while Ridge might take its time to develop, the team will be looking to take as little time as possible on the court, trying to get the ball up the floor.
Ridge opens its season Friday at 7 p.m. at Immaculata in Somerville. The Red Devils' first home game will be Monday at 1 p.m. against Sayreville.
"We have a lot of youth, but we've had a good pre-season so far," Feath said. "I'm most interested to see how good they will be in a month, and then in two months, once they get adjusted. There might be some ups and downs early in the season."
Speaking of ups and downs, Feath wants the team to get the ball up and down the floor without much wasted time.
"We want to push the ball a lot more and get out in transition," Feath said of his desired running game.
Senior guard Nate Herrera, in his third varsity season, will be one of the catalysts in that uptempo approach. Another will be first-year sophomore point guard Colin Lombardi.
"They both push the ball and handle and make everyone around them better," Feath said of Herrera and Lombardi. "And we have big guys who can rebound for us."
One of the forwards, 6-6 sophomore Jayden Hylton, played regularly as a freshman. The other, Nolan Murphy, is a 6-5 junior who'll probably alternate minutes with Hylton in the early going.
Ridge's chances for a quick start will be enhanced if sophomore wing player Gavin Kreitz is able to recover quicky from a pre-season back issue which limited him. Kreitz was a revelation playing varsity as a freshman. He averaged almost nine points a game last year.
"Kreitz fears nothing, and he was the leading scorer among our returning players this year," Feath said.
Ethan Smith, Stephan Portas, Jake Schapiro and freshman Nick Losada will also see minutes at guard and forward.
"I am absolutely optimistic," Feath said. "This is a talented group of kids."