Kirkpatrick pleased team gets sense of normaly

Ian Kirkpatrick likes the way Foran is shooting the basketball.

Ian Kirkpatrick likes the way Foran is shooting the basketball.

David G Whitham / For Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD - Foran High boys’ basketball coach Ian Kirkpatrick couldn’t contain his enthusiasm.

“It’s good to have some normalcy. We are thrilled to be on the court. Our main priority is to keep the players safe and to give them a season. Playing basketball is great for them, their morale, and for all the coaches,” said Kirkpatrick, now in his fourth season. “First and foremost, I like being with the kids. The level of competition in practice has been wonderful.”

Foran, which graduated four from last year’s 4-16 team, had 60 players, including nomadic wrestlers and track athletes show up on day one. Trey Deitelbaum is the lone returning starter.

“Trey (6 points per game) is a smart player with good strength and shooting at the guard position,” Kirkpatrick said.

“Todd Harris is our only senior and will be our captain,” Kirkpatrick said of his 6-foot forward. “He is providing good leadership. Todd works hard on both ends of the floor and is that player a team needs who does the things that don’t make it into the box score.”

Kirkpatrick broke down prospective starters.

“Charlie Diamantis can play any position on the floor and has a really good skill set. He can put the ball on the floor, post up inside and he can shoot it.

“Brayden Young (6-foot-1) is versatile and can play guard or forward. He has a high motor on defense.

“Matteo Tonelli will handle the ball, run the offense and provide good outside shooting.

“A.J. Edmond runs the floor well, is physical and a good rebounder.

“Dean Ross, Anthony Giordano and Jon Lahav are competing in practice and getting better every day.”

Kirkpatrick expects growing pains.

“We have 7/8 in rotation and hope that increases,” he said. “We are looking to implement more guys into our rotation once they get up to speed with our system. Competition-wise this year will be a learning process for some of us, but it will be about getting better as a team day to day.”

Playing with a mask has challenges beyond a player catching his breath.

“What I find the biggest obstacle with mask is communication, coach to player, player to player,” Kirkpatrick said. “We scrimmaged Guilford on Saturday and I was doing so much yelling through the mask that I went hoarse. I’m thinking of non-verbal signals (like a third base coach giving signs in baseball) to set up our offense or defense.”

Conditioning players for game play can also be a concern.

“We want each player to go hard for as long as he can,” Kirkpatrick said. “We can sub out and keep them fresh. In our scrimmage the players did a great job implementing the 4-minute mask break in each quarter.”

With no players over 6-foot-1, the Lions will look to up the tempo on offense.

“Last year we were more of a possession team, but we aren’t tall and will look to run when we can,” Kirkpatrick said. “Where we see fit, we will look to pressure the ball.”

It’s been a whirlwind for Kirkpatrick since the gym doors opened for tryouts on Jan. 25. Kirkpatrick thinks wrestlers and indoor track athletes helped boost the 60 players that showed up the first day.

“After tryouts we’ve had three full practices together before our scrimmage with Guilford,” Kirkpatrick said. “One through five on the court we can shoot the ball well. I thought our man to man defense was good. We rebounded well and were aggressive. That is an exciting starting point, but there were areas where we can improve which will happen with more practices.”

Shelton visits Friday and Amity comes to town on Tuesday.

“If the weather holds up we’re looking forward to getting that time together,” Kirkpatrick said. “All teams have to be flexible. If a game is cancelled, we are hoping to get another one in. They did that in fall with soccer. Our AD’s do a great job. As a coach you just want to play. We welcome change, we just want to play.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354