Dutch hoopsters say the best is yet to be
The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael
Look, but can’t touch: Guilderland senior Marc Du Moulin, right, keeps the basketball away from Columbia’s Elijah Lott during last Friday’s Suburban Council game in East Greenbush. The Dutchmen won, 82 to 75, and Du Moulin led the team with 23 points, 14 rebounds (six offensive), and one block. Lott scored 20 points for the Blue Devils.
EAST GREENBUSH — The Guilderland boys’ basketball team has been riding an impressive wave this season, but some players and the coach questioned the team’s greatness after allowing Columbia back into the game last Friday.
The Dutch had an 18-point lead over the Blue Devils on the road after a first half full of quick scoring and strong defense, but Columbia closed the gap to four points in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, Guilderland won the game with timely shots and free throws down the stretch.
“Honestly, I don’t think we’ve had our best game yet,” said senior Marc Du Moulin, who scored 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for Guilderland in its 82-to-75 win. “Sometimes we rely too much on our ability to score points quickly.”
The Dutchmen beat Colonie by 33 points on Tuesday night to move to 13-1 in the Suburban Council and 14-2 overall. Guilderland has 13 victories of 10 points or more; six of those wins had Guilderland out front by 20 points or more.
Those are some intimidating numbers, but Head Coach Ron Osinski stopped short of labeling Guilderland as a great team.
“We still have a ways to go, and I don’t think the kids would say they’re great, either,” said Osinski last Friday. “We’ve got more to go. We took a little bit of a nosedive [lately].”
Coach Osinski was referencing Guilderland’s recent losses to Shenendehowa (53-40) at home and Albany Academy (92-77) on the road. The Dutch shot 3-of-26 from three-point range against Shenendehowa, and gave up 27 more points to Academy than the last time it played the team on Dec. 14, which was a win.
Guilderland has had its share of large leads this season, and a few of those leads have not been maintained, Osinski said. Columbia beat Shenendehowa on its home floor on Jan. 4, so the coach wasn’t too surprised when the Blue Devils made a comeback in the second half last Friday.
Jahlil Nails and Elijah Lott are a strapping tandem for Columbia — both get to the hoop well — and the two combined for 46 points against Guilderland, the majority of those points coming in the second half. Meanwhile, the Dutch struggled with foul trouble and mental mistakes; the team committed 17 fouls.
“We just have to come out and not look at the scoreboard,” Dutch senior Matt Cerutti said of playing in the second half. “It would help if we played like we’re down 20 points when we’re up 20 points.”
Du Moulin told The Enterprise that Guilderland should never blow an 18-point lead. “Every team wants us at this point,” he said. “We have to be ready for anything.”
Osinski got expressive with his displeasure during Columbia’s second-half comeback. He ran onto the court to call a much-needed timeout after Lott and Nails connected for an alley-oop dunk in the third quarter, and then slammed his palms to the court when Ralph Simeone missed an open lay-up in the fourth quarter.
“A lot of this is mental,” said Osinski. “I expect the kids to miss some shots, but I don’t really expect mental mistakes at this point. A few times, Columbia really made us pay for those mistakes.”
Guilderland started the season 11-0 before losing to Shenendehowa, which made for a hard practice afterwards, Cerutti said. In the next game, the Dutch beat Bethlehem by 26 points.
“We play real good sometimes,” added Cerutti. “I think we rely too much on going on runs, though. We could be more consistent.”
The Dutchmen can make up points in a flash. Columbia had an 11-to-6 lead in the first quarter last Friday, but it took only a few minutes for Guilderland to go ahead, 21 to 13. It’s like the Blue Devils’ players had no idea what hit them.
Du Moulin, Cerutti, Vincent Simeone, and Andrew Platek all came into last Friday’s game averaging 11.4 points per game or more for Guilderland. Each player has taken turns as the team’s highest scorer on any given night, and no other Suburban Council team has this much of an arsenal in its line-up.
“That makes it tough on the other team,” Osinski said. “They have to guard everybody.”
Du Moulin said that the starting seniors — Simeone, Cerutti, Billy Floyd, and himself — have been playing basketball together since they were little kids. With the way that the Dutch move the ball, it’s easy to see the explosive chemistry.
Simeone, Cerutti, and Platek each scored 15 points against Columbia. Cerutti had nine rebounds and Simeone had four assists.
“We try to share the ball as much as possible,” said Du Moulin.
“But, it can be hard at times,” added Cerutti.
Du Moulin grabbed six offensive rebounds for the Dutch; he attacked the boards like a rabid animal.
“Got to get my points somehow,” he said.
Even though Guilderland let Columbia back into the game last Friday, the Dutch have been ahead in games for the majority of the season, and most teams would kill for that type of advantage. Besides, it’s always better to play up.
“We’ve been weathering the storm,” said Osinski. “With how we’re playing, we’re able to get through some errors.”
Actually, Osinski said that Guilderland has been in a tiny bit of a “funk” since the beginning of 2014.
If the Dutchmen can play at its top intensity for all four quarters and eliminate empty possessions, then the team could be very dangerous, and maybe even unbeatable, come playoff time.
Guilderland doesn’t seem to be in much of a funk, but if Coach Osinski is right, then that is bad news for the rest of Class AA.