The Many Lessons Of Basketball: Team Building In Boston

Hyde Boys Varsity Basketball Team

By Hyde Boys Varsity Coach Corey Begly

To many “basketball people” in New England, Hyde’s 3-0 start, with two impressive road wins against Wheeler and rival Hyde-Woodstock, was a surprise. An impressive beginning for a group of young men just learning how to play together and mesh in the midst of a very difficult schedule. On Friday, we had our toughest test thus far; a date with league power Pingree at Babson College.

This blog isn’t really about the Pingree game. Instead, this is just a small part of the story. For the first time in our young season, we struggled both on offense and defense. We found ourselves in a deep hole—Pingree had size and experience—a combination we had not yet seen in NEPSAC play. With six minutes remaining and down sixteen points, things seemed very bleak for the Phoenix. In a timeout, I simply asked the guys “are we going to give in?”

To me, big deficits in the second half—and the response to them—can tell you an enormous amount about a team. It is easier to concede defeat, to take a loss and prepare for the next game. However, our guys showed heart, fought back and chipped away into Pingree’s lead, exploding on the offensive end with well-timed three pointers by Gatouch Pan and Miguel Prieto. With a chance to win, our final shot went in and out. We lost by 1 point.

“There are two things in basketball: winning and misery.” This is a favorite quote of my father’s, a former college coach for 35 years. He isn’t wrong… losing is misery and we felt that postgame. However, learning from a loss can promote growth as a team and become a forge for further success. Perhaps the result wasn’t all that unfortunate; only time will tell.

However, it did mark the beginning of our story.

Part 1: Life on the Road, Musings on Red Roof Inns

We’ve already spent a sizable amount of time this season on a 14 person white mini bus. Although the vehicles are a certain level of charming, it can be difficult to get uh, comfortable? Below are my personal favorites. Don’t worry… I didn’t take these while driving.

Comfort on the mini bus

We left Babson College searching for sustenance and I allowed us to break our no fried fast food rule. After all we were done playing for the weekend. We found a regal Chick Fil A, aka god’s gift to the earth. Mountains of waffle fries took a bit of the edge off our loss.

Next stop… The Red Roof Inn outside of Boston. Yes… It is an inn or a motel but it must be understood that we ball on a budget. Don’t worry parents… I searched the inter webs to insure that the inn was clean. The good news was there were no bed bugs. If you’ve experienced them, you’d know. That being said, it wasn’t perfect. That wouldn’t be any fun, would it?Hyde bus in Red Roof Inn parking lot

Let’s do a case study on room 1– Antoine, Miguel, and Shemar.

“Coach… These are single beds. How can we fit two people in single beds. Explain that please.”

(It was a king… Shemar is just a big guy.)

“There was a hole in my towel and chedo stains.”

“Chedos”?

“Well, there def. was a hole.”

Despite these observations from our players, Coach Wimmer and I were blessed with the “best” experience… a non-smoking room that had most definitely been smoked in. We bit the bullet and slept soundly… other than the smell and a dream I had that a centipede crawled down my throat. Non-smoking!!

It wasn’t all bad at the red roof. They were very nice and let us eat our Dunkin Donuts in the break-room. We met a few of the housekeepers who were sweet as pie.

“What is a Phoenix?”

“We are from Maine, we are a basketba….

“No, no, what is that bird?”

Hyde students enjoy breakfast in the Red Roof Inn staff room

Many people are interested in the history of the Phoenix. Maybe for another blog… I think they are mythical?

Our first activity on a busy Saturday was driving into Boston (quite the adventure in our hot rod) and attending a Suffolk University men’s practice. Jeff Juron, the head coach was nice enough to have us, and the guys really enjoyed the experience.

“It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot from the Suffolk Practice” – Greg Kidger

The key word here is learned… Coaches and players took a great deal from Coach Juron’s practice. The players were impressed with the intensity and talk…specifically the purposeful chatter. All coaches are great thieves and Coach Juron let us take his drills/ a few set plays. Should be a big help as we move forward.

Practice

Living in Bath, Maine is a sharp contrast to a place like Boston. In Boston, there are obviously more people and with that, the banter increases. We entered another Dunkin (sensing a coffee theme?? ) and had a memorable conversation with the manager, who told us he was from Brazil. His favorite question?

“What’s a Phoenix??!”

Oh well.

Part 2: A Hyde Tale & Giving Back

Al McLain

The year was 1979. Hyde was down big early, 18-4. It was clear they needed a spark to contend with Suffield Academy. Enter, Al McLain, likely the best player in Hyde basketball history.

President Malcolm Gauld remembers the moment very clearly.

“We had just played in the MPA final the night before and won… actually had a guy on the team whose family had a plane and we flew from Augusta to Hartford in the morning for the prep title against Suffield.

Al was a postgraduate and we were down 14. We had to call a few timeouts to calm the guys down… Al (who wasn’t that vocal) quietly takes over the huddle and says “Give me the ball.”

Coach Ed Legg responded, “Give Al the ball.”

52 points later Hyde were champions. McLain went on to star at UNH and was a prized recruit and was drafted by the Houston Rockets in 1984 in the 6th round.  However, the best part about Al is who he is today.

“I met him at my middle school. He one of the best coaches I’ve ever had, and is my mentor”- Antoine Montgomery

“Al-ski” has been a mentor to countless kids and has changed countless lives. Two of his mentees are on our team, leaders on and off the court.

We were honored to run a clinic with Al, and forty 6th , 7th and 8th graders from the Dorchester area. It was a special moment, seeing our players as coaches.

Hyde players coach students

By giving back we learned so very much.

We said goodbye to Al at the Lee gym after some delicious local pizza and wings. Hope to see you in the spring, Al-ski! Our final stop was a bit of a surprise… great seats for a Division 1 Northeastern and Stonybrook tilt. The guys enjoyed the game and were impressed with NBA prospect Jameel Warney. Big double-double but the home team was able to pull out the victory.

As we headed home back into Maine, it wasn’t fully clear to me what we had learned from the weekend – but the players provided context!

“The weekend gave us time to bond as a team but also give back to a community aside from Hyde” – Antoine Montgomery

“I thought it was a real moment to bond with the team off the court. The game was also a learning moment.” – Shemar Jack

“Hyde basketball is more than just a team”—Andrew Palermo

“Saturday was good for us… made us think less about the loss and it was a learning experience watching Northeastern play, and made me realize we could be great if everyone gives 100% on both ends”- Gatouch Pan

“A great experience for the team and better for individuals. Got a look at a college paced practice and learned from the intensity. The clinic was a great leadership opportunity involving our players’ community and supporting the idea of giving back. We got to bond, sleeping in close quarters and enjoying each other’s company. The Northeastern game was exciting and intense and really energized the guys! An amazing experience with a value far beyond the cost.” — Coach Wimmer

“It was a great weekend although we lost by one. That loss is going to show us a lot and give us the confidence to go and battle with the big teams. The team building topped the week by going to college practice.”- Miguel Prieto

“It was fun and I just felt everyone got closer”—Kahiel Depass

More than a team…#hydetough

– Coach Begly