, the boys' basketball coach at Crosby High (Waterbury, Conn.)
, thinks that his team last season had better talent than this season's team.
Augelli still prefers this Bulldogs team than their predecessor, though.
"Last year, the team had better players, but never really meshed together," Augelli said. "That little thing was missing. This team has a unique personality. They pull for each other. There's not a jealously factor. That makes a big difference in a team.
"They work hard. They enjoy the game. That's one of the biggest things this year."
Crosby has given Augelli a lot to like so far. It's 6-0 and ranked sixth in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll.
"I start four juniors and a sophomore," Augelli said. "They have a little experience, but one of the starters, Tyshon Rogers
, was our leading scorer as a sophomore last year. So I had a good feeling that we'd be okay (this season).
"We're (unbeaten) at this point and I'm really happy with that. If we can keep on improving as we have been, I think we can do some damage."
Rogers has averaged a team-high 28.2 points, which also leads the state
, while classmate Lex Perez
has averaged 13.5 points. Senior Devin Stallings
has averaged 10.5 points.
Crosby has been the measuring stick the last several years in the Naugatuck Valley League
, one of the state's top boys' basketball conferences. They had won eight straight league titles before that streak was snapped last winter. They've also played in four CIAC state finals over the last eight seasons, and won the championship twice.
Success breeds success.
"It's an aura you create," Augelli said. "Our goal every year is to win a state title. A lot of team's goals are to qualify for the state tournament and win a league title. We had a 19-4 season last year and didn't win anything. To me, it was a bit of a disappointing year. Some teams would like to have a 19-4 season.
"These players expect to win. I'm comfortable in a game where we start to falter because I know they have that Crosby instinct that they're going to win the game, and sometimes that's what happens. That's the attitude you have to create with a team."
One of the Bulldogs' biggest issues this season is a mental one. They've been winning despite being in a shooting slump, and, because they're a younger team, Augelli has had to massage the confidence of a few players.
"They're so young that they tend to falter a bit and lose their confidence a little bit," Augelli said. " "Tyshon Rogers took a three (in one game) that clinked off the side of the rim in a game and said, ‘I'm not shooting that again.' I said, ‘yes, you are.'
"I tell them all the time that if the shot is there, take it, and they'll start dropping for you. Sometimes, when a kid is off, he just has to work his way out of it."
Crosby has been able to win thanks to its defense, a trademark of the program. Augelli has had to adjust things a bit, switching from man-to-man pressure to zone.
"We do a lot of trapping, full-court pressure, half-court pressure," Augelli said. "We probably work 80-to-85 percent of practice on defense.
"We push the ball at every opportunity. Get the rebound and run it up. If we don't have the break, then run a secondary break. It works to our advantage because if you're not shooting well, then you need to take many shots."
GIRLS WINTER HOCKEY CLASSIC DEBUTS IN SIMSBURY
The NHL Winter Classic may have been cancelled this week due to the league's player lockout, but that didn't stop Connecticut girls high school hockey from rolling out its first-ever New Year's Day outdoor winter tournament.
The open-air rink at Simsbury Farms played host on Tuesday to the inaugural Pioneer Valley Girls Winter Classic, featuring Simsbury
, Springfield (Mass.) Cathedral
, and East Catholic-Glastonbury-South Windsor
. The wind-chilled event - the Simsbury Farms rink has a roof but no sides - started at 10 a.m. Jan. 1 with the semifinal round, and concluded that same evening, with Simsbury edging defending state champion Hall-Conard, 3-2, for the title. Springfield Cathedral captured third place.
The all-tournament team featured F Alex Segar and F Leyna DiMarco (East Catholic-Glastonbury-South Windsor); F Amy Haggerty and G Kaylee Basile (Springfield Cathedral); F Emily Corrales and G Lauren Sorgio (Hall-Conard); and F Tess MacKay and D Laura Yablecki (Simsbury).Ned
Griffen has covered high school, college and professional sports in the
Northeast since 1992. A 2003 New England Associated
Press News Executives award winner, he may be reached at email@example.com