By Scott Huff
Election Day was on November 4, 2008, and Barack Obama was voted as the 44th President of the United States. However, Obama does not take the oath of office until January 20, 2009.
Our government is in a transition period.
The basketball programs at both Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School and North Penn High School are also in a transition period - but for slightly different reasons.
At Plymouth-Whitemarsh, coach Jim Donofrio must acquaint himself with a starting lineup that could feature three underclassmen. And those talented players merge into the Colonial program from outside the district.
“We have a lot of new faces, and some old ones,” said Donofrio. “It is going to take some time for everyone to understand how we like to do things – how to play within our system.
“We have had quite a few long practices trying to put things in,” continued Donofrio. “We have shown a lot of improvement in our scrimmages, and I’m sure the longer we play together the better we will become.”
The new faces include 6-foot, 9-inch junior C.J. Aiken, 6-5 sophomore Jalen Bond, and 6-5 freshman Damien Williams. Both Aiken and Bond transferred from La Salle High School where both players were in the starting lineup for the 15-11 Explorers.
“Aiken is a talent – a national level player,” said Donofrio. “And Bond isn’t far behind. Both are very young, but very talented players.
“The type of basketball that we play here is a little different than the Philadelphia Catholic League,” added Donofrio. “We like to play an up-tempo game. It might take them a little time to understand the pace of the game.”
Someone who does know the pace of the game is 6-0 senior point guard Will Mascio.
“Both Joe Hughes and I feel like we can take both C.J. and Jalen under our wings,” said Mascio – who returns from last season’s 16-9 Colonials. “I have known and played with C.J. before, and he fits right in with the rest of the team.
“We are a tight group – like brothers,” added Mascio. “We have high expectations for the season, and it should be a very exciting season.”
“Right now, you really don’t know what is going to happen with this team,” said Donofrio. “We will now a lot more later in the season.”
After that transition period is over.
At North Penn, it is the returning players that must acquaint themselves with a new coach – Ron Hassler. Hassler comes to the Knights after a one-year layoff when he stepped down as coach at Allentown Central Catholic.
“I think it might take until mid-January for some of the wrinkles to come out,” said Hassler. “The progressive type program that we are putting in here is a program that might take two or three years to take hold.
“That doesn’t mean that we will abandon the seniors,” added Hassler – who has eight returning seniors. “But we are trying to redesign the program from the junior varsity to the freshmen, and that includes reaching out to the middle schools.”
Unlike the program at PW with its up-tempo style, the ‘new look’ Knights will feature a more conservative offense.
“We will look to run the floor, but if we don’t have something we won’t force it,” said Hassler. “We won’t be a team that shoots a lot of three pointers, we’ll make the extra pass to get the good shot.
“We want to be more selective on what we do on the floor,” continued Hassler. “And that might be a change from what this team was used to last year.”
The Knights return eight seniors, but only two have tested varsity experience. Both Matt Albaugh and Derek Brooks will be the cornerstone of NP team.
“Two different coaches and two different styles,” said Albaugh. “I think that when we learn the offense, we are going to be more successful.
“Coach Hassler and his staff know a lot about how to play basketball,” added Albaugh. “They stress control and execution. We have good team unity, and if we continue to work hard we will get better.”
“Right now we are in a teaching mode for the entire team,” said Hassler. “We have some growing up to do, and when we do we should be fine.”
Both Plymouth-Whitemarsh and North Penn could be good right now – but expect them to be even better once the New Year begins.
After that transition period is over.