The Mount Greylock boys’ basketball team got a taste of reaching the Curry Hicks Cage at the University of Massachusetts last season, and is hoping to build off that experience in an effort to return there.
"That was a very exciting time for us and we’re glad the kids got a taste of that," coach Bob Thistle said. "We know what a hard road that is and was. But, for us it really comes down to being prepared for each game and not looking too far ahead."
The Mounties return six players from the squad that made a run to the semifinals of the Division III Western Massachusetts tournament last season.
The Mounties would like to return to UMass by season’s end, but aren’t going to make travel plans just yet.
"It’s a luxury for us to have those guys come back who have that experience," Thistle said. "We’re excited. It’s a really great group of kids -- a special group of kids -- we’re excited to work with this group. I think I speak for the entire coaching staff in saying that."
Leading those returners are captains Tyler Picard, Nathan Majumder and Hank Barrett. Although Barrett won’t start the first few games as he continues to recover from a broken collarbone suffered during the football season. He is expected to play in the team’s opener, but will not start.
Reigning All-Transcript MVP Tyrell Thomas will also return to court for his junior season.
"We’re expecting some scoring out of those four players for sure," Thistle said. "Although, we will look to spread the ball around so teams have to defend everyone."
Also returning to the team are Brett McCormack, Cole Jackson and Robby Buffis. Ian Brink and Jack Thistle both saw some playing time last season and will be on the varsity team from the start this year.
Senior Ethan Ryan also joins the team after not playing for the Mounties last season. Ryan is expected to start in place of Barrett until he is healthy enough to take back his starting point guard role.
"It’s competitive everyday in practice for us and that’s really what we want," Thistle said. "Guys know that starting isn’t something that is just handed to them. They have to work hard every day in practice to really earn that role."
Thistle will be able to change his team’s strategy on any given night. He’s given the flexibility because of the group of starters he is returning this season. That and the plethora of talent the Mounties will feature.
"We can go with a big lineup, or change that and go small with more shooting," Thistle said. "It’s going to come down to what best suits us coming into a game."