Bishop Loughlin still has championship aspirations with young team
In just one year, Bishop Loughlin has nearly turned over the entire roster of its boys basketball team. The squad transitioned from being elite and senior-heavy to inexperienced and filled with mostly sophomores and juniors. Despite the large turnover, the Lions still expect to compete for a city title this year.
“I have a brand new stable here,” said head coach Edwin Gonzalez, who is in his sixth year with the team. “I like this group. Every year is a different challenge, and as a coach you have to be up for that challenge.”
Last year’s team was one of the best in New York City with stars like Khadeen Carrington, now at Seton Hall, and Mike Williams, at Rutgers University. Now it’s more focused on sophomores like Keith Williams, Marques Watson and Jordan Thomas. Gonzalez hopes to eventually turn the three players into tomorrow’s big names.
“These guys are what Mike and Khadeen were three years ago as sophomores,” Gonzalez said. ”They were young guys who went through their lumps. It’s going to happen. These guys will get better, and they are getting better.”
Loughlin is off to a slow start with just two wins in its first seven games including a tough 71-54 loss to Iona Prep at Bishop Loughlin on Saturday. That’s where the few holdovers from last year’s team, Dominic Grayer, Donovan Dunham and Josh Primus, need to help out with their leadership — and quickly.
“We don’t look at it as a learning year,” Gonzalez said. “We’re going to compete; we’re going to get better. These kids aren’t here to be a stepping stone for anybody. Our goal is to be in the final game. These kids have to get better individually and as a team. It’s not an easy task, but they’re up for the challenge.”
One thing that will help the Lions this year is the addition of three players from the now-closed Bishop Ford High School — seniors Dior Dixon and Devin Dingle and junior Israel Farrington. It’s still a process of learning to play together, but there is optimism that there will eventually be a big improvement.
“A lot of these guys are not used to playing with each other, and the younger guys are finding that they can’t get away with things at the varsity level that they could in JV,” Grayer said. “That’s stuff we’re working on in practice. I’ve seen a lot of other teams, and we have as much talent as anyone, though, and we should be in that last game with a chance to win it.”
One improvement Gonzalez said that needs to be made immediately is to become more consistent defensively. That’s what hurt the Lions so much against Iona Prep on Saturday as they quickly fell into a 16-7 hole after the first quarter and were fighting to catch up throughout the rest of the game.
“That’s what happens to inexperienced teams,” Gonzalez said. “They failed to execute defensively and got into foul trouble early in the game. That’s something that older players know how to avoid, but they’ll adjust as they get more experience.”
Despite the fact that Loughlin never got within 10 points of Iona after halftime, the Lions did eventually settle in and show off some of their talent. Williams, who had just two points in the first half, finished with 18 and sophomore Jordan Thomas finished with 16.
“We wanted that game badly after a couple of close losses to St. Michael’s (Toronto) and Wings Academy over the break,” Grayer said. “We’re improving, though. We just have to keep our heads in the games and keep trying to play better. We have Holy Cross coming up on Tuesday, and hopefully we’ll be ready for them.”
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