Tiger Woods coined the phrase, “If I am not getting better, than I’m getting worse.”
New Providence head boys basketball coach Art Cattano can relate, having the same philosophical approach to his team and the game of basketball. He preaches to his team, “Any team can beat anybody on any given day if you are not prepared.” Not an earth shattering concept, but how many teams follow it?
This week, the Pioneers look to even the score for two early season losses. In back to back games, New Providence came up empty against Technology 70-61, then lost to Oratory Prep 57-56, in a hard-fought battle on New Providence’s home court. With those losses, Cattano’s club had a 4-3 record staring them in the face, mot a comfortable place for a team to be in.
At 7-6, the Oratory Rams are in danger is having a post-season birth slip through their hands. The Rams will be fighting for their post-season lives against New Providence, this time on their home turf. The next day, New Providence will have to find a way to beat Technology. The Newark school has been on top of the MVC division since it joined the conference.
Riding a five game winning streak, the Pioneers will have to be confident after beating a talented Brearley team 58-33 and Dayton 35-33 entering into this week’s division match-ups.
A 9-3 record will secure Cattano 22nd playoff appearance in 26 years of coaching. Quite a feat for a small Group I suburban school where basketball is not the primary sport.
“The kids really are committed to the program and when they come in, they buy into the program,” said the veteran coach “We have had a couple of down years, but we have always been in the mix.”
New Providence uses a seven man rotation; five of the seven suited up for the football team. On the roster as a whole, 10 out of the 12 players were members of this year’s gridiron team.
This year’s squad relies on senior swingman Marc Iocovelli. Iocovelli was injured last year, but is the team’s leading scorer this year, averaging 14 ppg. The 6’3” forward can score inside or outside. Junior guard Ed Morgan and senior Jimmy Siracusa were the only two players that gained valuable varsity time last year. 6’0” Senior John Lesnewich is the quarterback on the football team and brings that tenacity to the basketball court and seniors Danny Trench and Steven Vigilante round out the Pioneers rotation. Vigilante can score and was the leading scorer in two games this year.
“We are not as deep as we have been, but we have a lot of athletic kids on the team,” said Cattano.
6’6” sophomore Jack Cole gives the Pioneers an inside game and a bright tomorrow. “Jack has a great shot and he has a lot of potential to be as good a player that has ever been at New Providence,” the coach said about his young player.
After this week New Providence will know where they stand in the conference and in the state section. As the second half of the season unfolds, Cattano and company will be ready to put any team to the test.