NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The New Providence Pioneers boys’ basketball season did not start the way that they wanted but are still looking to build on last season where they reached the North 2 Group 1 semi-finals.
Last season, the Pioneers finished with a 13-14 and entered the state tournament as the No. 11 seed. They upset No. 6 Dunellen and No. 3 Whippany Park before falling to University 66-51.
Despite the success last season, head coach Art Cattano has installed a new defensive system this season.
“We put in a whole new defense where we are trying to pick up full court and run and jump people all the time,” Cattano said.
With the press on all game, Cattano also noted that he will have to adjust how he uses his rotation. This was noticeable in the season opening loss to Summit which saw 12 different players come on the court for the Pioneers.
That’s the most kids I played since I was coaching here,” Cattano said after the Summit game. “Normally I play like six, seven or eight kids at most, but you saw 11, 12 kids going in there tonight.”
So many players getting playing time it also means that the Pioneers will not be looking at one player to lead them. Cattano believes that it is this true team concept that will lead New Providence through their schedule.
“We keep saying that we don’t have any stars and we have to play as a team,” Cattano said. “It’s a team thing we all have to get better.”
However, even before the season started the Pioneers have two players out due to injury.
“McDonald is our big kid gives us a little size and Bendarsky is a real good defensive player,” Cattano said. “They could help us a little but we have some good young kids too though.”
Cattano does not know when either player will be back but does not expect either to be out that long.
New Providence dropped the season opener to Summit 74-56 but return to the court Tuesday night to face Johnson High School at 7 p.m.