OP Varsity Basketball Preview with Coach Daugherty


Image courtesy of Oratory Prep

Evan O'Dowd, Staff Writer

As December nears, Oratory’s winter athletes begin to concentrate on the upcoming seasons. The varsity basketball team hopes to continue off of the success of the past two years, making a push as a powerhouse in the UCC. I sat down with Coach Daugherty about the impending 2020-2021 run, appearing optimistic about completing the year despite the ongoing pandemic.

Q: What positive experiences from the 2019-2020 team do you hope to bring forth to this year’s squad?

A: We moved up a division to play higher-level teams, such as Summit, GL, and Rahway. We also had a home county game for the first time in a long time, and we ended up playing Seton Hall in the playoffs. Playing/competing with teams with an abundance of talent gave us a great experience, and even losing gave us valuable lessons about this upcoming year.

Q: Although the Rowdies will not be allowed to attend games this season, what can students expect to hear about this year’s Rams?

A: I think you should expect a hungry, young, but experienced basketball team. You will see plenty of last year’s JV players getting a lot of minutes, providing a great skill set on both offense and defense. Although we have a lot of returning players, look to see a much larger, physical roster this season.

Q: Peter Byrne, Tyler Maloney, and Declan McKee were all crucial pieces of the success last season. Who will you look to to step up and fill the voids they left behind?

A: It will be tough to replace the scoring ability of guards like Peter, Tyler, and Declan, but I’m expecting three players to have breakout seasons: Lucas Pavalonis, Tommy Conniff, and Michael Pirone. JV players that dressed last year, such as Russell Nelson, Alex Werbaneth, and Jason Aurgiemma, should also be able to fill that void. Look to see Enzo Canali also be a force for us, scoring in the paint and being aggressive under the boards. 

Q: In previous years, what team has given OP the most trouble? How do you look to defeat them?

A: On a year-to-year basis, definitely Summit. The victory at OP in January was crucial because it made a statement to them that we can compete. They have a great system and are incredibly talented. In order to beat them, we have to make free throws in crunch time and get crucial rebounds, allowing us to run up the score and maintain a cushion.

Q: With COVID-19 cases surging, many have doubted the completion of a winter high school season. Is there a sense of positivity around the team that you guys will be able to complete the year as planned?

A: We are all hopeful that a season will be completed. The completion of the soccer season gave me optimism that winter sports should be finished in February. But, who knows?

Q: What is the team goal for this upcoming year?

A: It’s a very universal mindset this season. Our goal is to win the conference, getting a county home game, putting ourselves on the map, and competing with phenomenal teams. Moral victories are not what we are aiming for; we want to win at all costs.