The Phoenix are Ready to Rise from Last Season’s Ashes

We will see if the Phoenix can overcome both their internal obstacles and take advantage of their strengths on January 4 to grab that crucial win midway through the season, one that can set the tone for the rest of the season.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Phoenix, Stuyvesant’s girls’ varsity basketball team, are getting ready to rise from the ashes as their 2018-2019 season gets underway. Coming off of a 10-9 season last year, the team will be looking to build on a solid performance that showed both individual glimpses of skill and pure fundamental basketball. The Phoenix will start their season at home on December 3 against the High School of Fashion Industries. Stuyvesant beat the High School of Fashion Industries last year in a convincing fashion with a 58-19 scoreline. The team will be looking to continue their recent dominance over their Manhattan adversaries and lay the foundation for a successful season in front of the home crowd during the season opener.

Naturally, the team will be looking to improve upon their record from last year and make a real push in the playoffs. Senior and captain Talia Kirshenbaum, however, is focused on building a strong team and having the ability to get out on the court, enjoy the game, and put on an exciting performance as a team. “I'm trying not to put too many expectations on this season, but I'm definitely looking forward to a really fun season with a lot of new players on the team,” Kirshenbaum said. As is the case for any team, new players will need time to develop and get adjusted to the high school level but can also show promise to unlock different parts of the game and add new talents to an already strong core of veteran players.

In addition to exploring their new talents, there is always room for improvement in areas of weakness. For last year’s team, that weakness was ball movement. “I'm hoping that we can work on spreading the ball around instead of having just one ball handler that we always look to like we did last year,” Kirshenbaum said. This issue can be addressed in a multitude of ways. In addition to keeping the ball moving at all times, the team might also explore having alternating primary ball handlers per possession or rotation. This would take the pressure off the primary ball handler and give the opposing team an additional concern knowing there are two very capable players who can initiate and adjust the offense at their own will.

Whatever tactics the team chooses to adopt, in the evolved game, which has also spread to the high school level, it will be key for the team shooters to get open looks from deep, which will only happen as a result of systematic and precise passing. The evolved form of basketball places an emphasis on perimeter play and a spread offensive scheme, which all sums up to the core philosophy—the fact that three points will always be greater than two.

In addition, the three balls may become a more integral part of the Stuyvesant offensive system, as the team has recruited and developed some deadeyes from deep. “[Senior] Ally Archer is going to be a force on the court as always. I would also keep an eye out for [senior] Kaitlyn Duong at the three-point line. And look out for underclassmen Paige Wolfing and Alison Chan, who are already looking really strong,” Kirshenbaum said. Having a skilled veteran player like Archer will attract the attention of opposing defenses and as a result, drag defenders away from the team’s deadly marksmen. In addition, it will open up space for underclassmen to help run the offense or create their own shots, adding additional threats on the offensive end of the floor.

Even with all this talent, however, defense and fundamentals still lay at the core of a successful team, and it is a priority for the team to improve upon that from last season. “I think our biggest obstacles are similar to those of past seasons: we need to work on being aggressive with the ball and going up strong to the basket, as well as making good strong passes,” Kirshenbaum said. When the three ball isn’t there, it is essential for the team to be able to take it to the rack, break down the opposition, and enforce its dominance on the hardwood.

The Phoenix are looking forward to what can be a very challenging but rewarding season. It will be intriguing to watch this team against their highest levels of opposition. Stuyvesant will have January 4 circled on their calendar as the Phoenix will play away against Lab Museum United. This fixture is usually competitive and is growing into a rivalry game in the Manhattan A South Division. However, Lab had a convincing win against Stuyvesant last year with a 64-37 scoreline, so expect the Phoenix to come out and play with a chip on their shoulders with a chance at redemption against their rivals. We will see if the Phoenix can both overcome their internal obstacles and take advantage of their strengths on January 4 to grab that crucial win midway through the season, one that could set the tone going forward.