BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — When a haphazard scrimmage possession ended with a failed long 2-point attempt at a recent practice, Shenendehowa boys’ basketball head coach Tony Dzikas’ rebuke was to the point.
“Guys, we’ve got too many special players to get a shot like that,” Dzikas said. “Everyone, know your roles.”
Winning games in a single season is easier when a coach has talents like senior guard Kevin Huerter at his or her disposal. But in order to sustain success, what’s more important is constructing a roster — a program, really — in which roles are clearly defined and allow players to grow within a team environment.
The defending state champions’ roster for the 2015-16 season shows how care for the overall health of a program helps a team reload rather than rebuild. Two of the team’s likely starters — 6-foot-4 junior guard Luke Hicks and 6-foot-7 junior center Mike Pizziketti — were varsity members last season as sophomores, playing quality spot minutes on a loaded team for which they were more luxuries than necessities.
“Really, my whole role last year was to try to make [Huerter] better in practice,” said Hicks, whose squad starts its 2015-16 season tonight vs. Burnt Hills. “And I knew coming in as a sophomore that I was underdeveloped, slower.”