MHS jayvee boys learning the game

Mustangs stand at 4-10 so far

By: John E. Powers
   James Avallone has a basic approach in his job as head coach of the Manville High School boys’ junior varsity basketball team. The most important thing, Avallone says, is for his team to improve – not so much in the wins and losses department where success will eventually come, but in the way the young Mustangs play the game.
   Coming into this week, Manville carried a 4-10 record after 55-28 and 44-34 setbacks to Belvidere and Bound Brook, respectively, last week. Avallone said that his team has improved since the start of the year, pointing to the fact that the Mustangs lost by 29 the first time they played Bound Brook.
   "We’re primarily giving kids the experience of playing good competition, getting them used to playing 5-on-5 basketball," said Avallone, who graduated from St. Rose High in Belmar and Loyola University in Baltimore, Md. "We’re getting them into the rhythm of the varsity philosophy and getting them ready to step up to the varsity so they can acclimate themselves quickly and successfully."
   Avallone has been working with his team on jump shot technique, passing and defense.
   "We’ve done pretty well defensively," said Avallone, who is a social studies teacher at Manville High School. "We just have to cut down on our turnovers. We had 41 turnovers against Belvidere, which is way too many. It’s just a situation where we have to get them to calm down. We have to be better passers and improve our dribbling skills. The goal is to eliminate the turnovers."
   Sophomore center Matt Coppola and freshman guard Pawel Maziarz had six points apiece in the Belvidere game. Freshman Danny Pierrot had five and sophomore forward Drew Evanylo had four. Freshman forward/guard Matt Zangara led the Mustangs in the Bound Brook game with nine, while Maziarz and Eric Hall had four apiece..
   "We were in it the whole game against Bound Brook," Avallone said. "As we are playing teams the second time around we’re playing much better as a team."
   The Mustangs have beaten Sussex Tech twice, South Hunterdon and David Brearley. Manville defeated Brearley after having lost to the Bears the first time.
   "They were the best team we’ve beat," Avallone said.
   Coppola and sophomores Brian Rock and Evanylo, freshmen Joe Burnett and Billy Fisher have played both junior varsity and varsity minutes this year. Coppola, Rock and Fisher have played significant minutes at the varsity level, so they are limited to one quarter on the junior varsity level. Players have a limit of five quarters in one night combined.
   "If they play just one minute that counts as one quarter, so we’ve been using them depending on how the game is going. I’ve done it different ways. Since we had a close game against Bound Brook we didn’t play Matt at all, but Brian played in the first quarter and Billy in the second."
   Avallone is also expecting sophomore Shane Jurkowski to join the team. He has spent most of the season recovering from a broken wrist.
   The junior varsity team was scheduled to have three games remaining at press time. The Mustangs were set to play at Roselle Park this past Tuesday, then finish the season with home games against Technology Friday and against Jonathan Dayton Monday.