Wilmington boys basketball head coach Joe Maiella is looking forward to a team with hardhat mentality. But he’s not a fan of construction comparisons when it comes to this year’s squad.
“We don’t use the word rebuilding,” said Maiella, whose team lost a significant number of contributors to graduation last year. “To me, that’s an excuse for coaches to use. We want to compete in every single game, and we want to make the state tournament.”
This year’s Wildcats will have a different look from previous teams. Rather than shooting the lights out from the perimeter, Maiella’s charges are more likely to grind down opponents with a strong inside game.
James Wilkinson, Colin Doherty and Tommy Letellier are this year’s captains, leading the charge of returning players.
Also expected to contribute on the hardwood is JV call up Connor Bennett. Though Bennett is only a sophomore, Maiella said he can alter a game defensively with his height.
Classmate James O’Regan, who was a quarterback on the football team this year, is expected to be the sixth man for the team while fellow sophomores Zack Abbott and Ryan Walsh also give the team some young talent.
Juniors Colin Ahern, Kevin Keane, Jimmy Murphy, Ryan McEvoy and Scott Manganelli join seniors Tyler Vibert, Steve Colangelo, Tim Woods and Justin McKinnon bring an upperclassman presence to the Wildcats.
“Offensively, we’ll be more structured than in the past,” said Maiella. “We’ll try to go inside a lot more versus the last couple years. We’ll try to get up and down the court, and I expect to play eight to ten guys that can pressure teams with a variety of presses to see if we can convert some turnovers into points.”
A perennial playoff contender in recent years, the Wildcats were left out of the postseason picture last year.
Losers of several one point decisions last year, Wilmington missed the playoffs by just one game. Because of that, Maiella said he knows how important it will be to take advantage of the opportunities his team gets.
“We missed out on the tournament by one point last year, so every game is big,” said Maiella. “We want to get to 10 wins or to second place in the league to get in the tournament, so that’s why every minute of every game is important. This league is so tough, so it’s going to be a battle every night.”