While the Andover Varsity men’s basketball team is not the team to go watch for alley oops, and windmill dunks, the Warriors are poised for another great season of fundamentals, fundamentals and more fundamentals.
The starting lineup is not yet set, but senior John Pisacreta has already been named captain. The returning Varsity point guard says head coach Dave Fazio’s lineup for this year is still open because, “[Fazio’s] going to try to keep it interesting. He talks a lot about trying to keep it competitive every day. Even practices are tryouts he says.” Senior shooting guard Ben Brown says Fazio, “wants to make you earn your position.”
Pisacreta is ready for yet another big season full of steals, fast breaks and pocket passes. Size isn’t his game with his long, lanky build but his legs tell a different story- one of speed and agility. His mind, as all-star point guards’ should be, is sharper than ever. Coach Fazio says that choosing Pisacreta as captain was an easy decision because he “meets all the criteria on and off the court as far as our pillars go. Our pillars are all about discipline and character and integrity.”
With fantastic returning Varsity players such as big man Connor Merinder, David Giribaldi and Brown, Andover has little room in their starting lineup, but several youngsters from the 9th and 10th grade stand a chance to be key players on this year’s squad. Freshman EJ Perry and sophomore Jonathan Rodriguez are just a few of the names floating out there. Coach Fazio even went on to say that, “EJ Perry is going to be a star here. He’s only a freshman. He’s going to surprise a lot of people out there.” Fazio is still waiting on some of the underclassmen to get their grades up, however, in order to stay academically eligible.
The road to a state championship this year will be tough as always with Andover in the MVC, what Fazio calls “the best league in the state.” The Warriors hope to be in the top 10 in the state when the preseason polls come in, but it’ll be a daunting task to keep their exquisite ranking through the season. The schedule includes a game at the TD Garden against the perennial power, Brookline, and tournaments that include teams such as Everett, St. John’s Prep and Andover’s MVC rival, Central Catholic. “Every year our goal is really nothing short of a state championship,” says Brown.
Coach Fazio holds the team to a high standard in terms of their defense. Playing fundamentally sound defense is their number one priority to him. With Pisacreta and Brown pick-pocketing opposing offenses and Merinder blocking any would-be scorers that cross his path, Andover seems set to make their coach content with their ability to stop opposing teams from scoring.
By Zach Perry