Whether it was offense or defense, it didn't matter. Tyler Picard seemed to have an advantage over almost every player on the basketball court.
There aren't too many players in Berkshire County that can matchup with Picard's 6-foot-5 frame. The Mount Greylock big man proved to be far more than just a big body under the basket on his way to being named the All-Transcript boys' basketball MVP.
"A lot of teams really didn't have an answer for him this year," Greylock coach Bob Thistle said. "He is a big man, but he can shoot the ball."
Greylock lost just one game in Berkshire County during the regular season on the way to capturing the South Division championship. Picard led the way. He averaged more than 15 points per game to lead the team in scoring -- he finished ninth in the county. He was one of four Greylock starters that averaged double figures this season.
"Our whole goal this season, was work the ball down low and get
shots," Picard said. "I have to give credit to the perimeter guys, Tyrell [Thomas], Hank [Barrett], Nathan [Majumder] and even Brett [McCormack]. They were able to knock down their shots, so it really opened things up for me."
It wasn't just his offensive abilities that made him dangerous. The Mounties had a strong focus on defense, and Picard was in the middle of it all.
"He was the most important person on our team," said fellow senior Hank Barrett. "The whole offense and defense
Picard led the team in rebounds and contributed assists on a nightly basis. He recorded a double-double in 14 of 20 regular season games this year. He failed to reach double digits in just three regular season games.
He also stood tall on the defensive end of things. His size and athletic ability allowed him to square off with tough assignments on most nights and come out on top.
"It was really the whole team," Picard said. "Everyone could score and defend."
Not all inside players can score like Picard did this season. His offensive game picked up throughout the season and propelled him to close out his career with 992 career points.
Some coaches were caught off guard by his ability to score the way he did.
"The first time we played [Greylock], we put a lot of our focus into Thomas, and Picard really hurt us," Drury coach Jack Racette said. "The second time we played them, we just couldn't stop him. He's so much bigger than anyone and he's so seasoned."
This year marked Picard's fifth on the varsity team. But, he might have saved his best for last. Not only was it a successful campaign for the Mounties, advancing to the Western Massachusetts quarterfinals, but Picard also grew as a player.
"I think the thing we were proud of Tyler for was just to see his growth," Thistle said. "I coached him both junior and senior year, and his maturity on and off the court has grown tremendously."
That was evident in the Mounties' final regular season home game. Picard picked up three fouls in the first half against St. Joseph's and was forced to sit much of the second quarter.
He finished the game with those same three fouls, but had 20 rebounds and a career-high 29 points. Thistle believes a year ago, Picard would have fouled out of that game.
"Our coaches just told us to always play for the next play and never worry about the rest," Picard said. "The first couple of years I played, the refs kind of got to me and inside my head. This year I was able to push ahead and just play my game."