Girls basketball: Jonathan Law believes best is yet to come
“We don’t get any credit for those wins,” Jonathan Law girls basketball coach Dan Young answered when asked how it felt to have four starters returning from his team that went 14-6 in the regular season before losing to Class L quarterfinalist Kennedy High of Waterbury in the state tournament.
That said, Young, entering his third season at the helm, is pleased to have his four veteran captains back.
“Erin Saley and Laura Dulin have played four years varsity and Jessica Centore and Kailee Frank have been three years,” he said. “They are each terrific yet unique. They all work hard whether it is on the court or in the classroom.”
Young then reverted to his earlier theme.
“In some ways we have to forget about the past,” he said. “We have to focus on how to get better, not so much for the larger goal (going deeper into the postseason) but how to get better every day to win the next game.
“The first challenge (when he began at Law) was to change expectations. We are too quick to label what is good. It depends on your measuring stick. We wanted to go further than what they had experienced.”
How do you do that?
“Every day you focus on improving skills,” said Young, who will be assisted by Jane Morrissey and Mark Robinson. “Fundamentals come first, and through that the individual will get better. Fortunately, the players bought in and have seen that improvement result in success. The younger players now see (how the veteran players practice) and that helps continue that trend.”
Young took time to breakdown each captain.
“Erin Saley is continuing to evolve her game. She is not only are tallest player, but she has developed each of her skill sets. She is a great passer, a long-range shooter and can bring the ball up.
“Laura Dulin is the same as Erin and the other girls when it comes to leadership and showing teammates how to prepare. Because she grew up in a basketball family (three sisters played for Law), she knows the game. Being a distributor and a scorer is a tough thing to do. Laura is continuing to face the challenge of balancing those things.
“Jessica Centore, well you can’t teach her skill sets. What separates her is the way she seeks out instruction. She’ll come early and stay late. Jessica has turned herself from being a superior athlete to a basketball player. Her work ethic again shows the younger players how you can refine yourself.
“Kailee Frank is our glue. She personifies what a coach looks for...She is our defensive stopper and incredibly quick. Kailee embraces the drills that go into being a great player. Kailee loves defense, she sets the tone.
“Through actions and words, each of our captains are always giving that extra effort. That is key at this level.”
Law boasts two other seniors.
“Paige Szygiel is a natural leader,” Young said. “When you talk about bringing energy you are talking about Paige. She gives us that boost at forward, attacking the basket and getting the tough rebound.
“Megan Smith plays guard. She understands how our system runs and does a great job on the court. She and Paige were soccer captains and bring that experience with them.
“There is a good competition going on between our juniors, sophomores and freshmen, a fact that can only benefit the program.”
Law’s lack of height is a concern.
“Because we look to develop basketball players, not so much position players, that gives us the versatility we need,” Young said. “They can each play anywhere on the floor. We’ll have to play off our speed and use our quickness. We need to be precise on our footwork and spacing, with our screening, blocking out. We have to do these things better than our opponents.”
Law will visit Amity-Woodbridge on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. The Eagles next travel to play Mercy High in Middletown on Friday, Dec. 18, at 7.
Law host West Haven High on Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 6. They will host the Milford Tournament with games versus Berlin High (Dec. 28) and Immaculate-Danbury (Dec. 30). Both games are at 2 p.m.