Nipmuc Boys’ Basketball sets sights on postseason
New coach hopes steady improvement will steer team toward goals
By Chris Villani
The Nipmuc boys’ basketball team has a new coach this season but the goals for the program are familiar: get to the Clark Tournament, compete for a Dual Valley Conference crown, and earn a spot in the state playoffs.
In order to get there, head coach Jason Gosselin said his team will focus on day-to-day objectives.
“The goal for us is that we just want to get better every single day,” Gosselin said. “It sounds cliche and simple, but it’s not always easy. Winning is the goal, but it’s not the focus for our group. I don’t want them to get too happy when we are winning or too down when we are not.”
The focal point for the team and its opponents once again figures to be 6-foot-6 big man James McKinney. The junior has exceeded the high expectations Gosselin had for him when he took over the program.
“He is always listening and asking what’s needed of him, he is a great teammate, and he loves everybody in the gym,” Gosselin said. “As a basketball player, he is hungry. A lot of his success has been based on being physically bigger, but he has learned to see the more detailed things on offense. He is using angles better and working on that left hand.”
Gosselin is looking to add more depth and take some of the heat off his star center.
Senior Brayden Kelly is an experienced player whom Gosselin said is committed to having a strong final campaign with the basketball program. Junior Chase Kelly is finding his place on the floor, his coach said, adding he is “doing well and doing all of the right things out there.”
Gosselin also said he has found a “great surprise” in junior Logan DeMarzo, a 6-foot-3 forward.
“He had a great offseason, and he grew into his body a bit,” Gosselin said. “He is learning to play at the right pace and fit in alongside a great player in Jimmy.”
In addition to bringing a more diverse offense to the court, Gosselin wants to change things up on defense and play more man-to-man. The changes will roll out throughout the season as the new coach learns more about his players.
“Seeing them play is different from looking at a stat report or last year’s film,” Gosselin said. “It’s been good to come in and really get to know them.”