The Stuyvesant Storm Strikes Again

Despite the record, the Storm have had a generally successful season and the future is bright.

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By Stuyvesant Indicator

Last year’s Stuyvesant boys’ varsity basketball team, the Storm, had their most successful campaign in recent history. With an 8-4 regular season record, a playoff berth to cities, and a quarterfinal run in boroughs, the team had finally recovered from the disgruntled times of COVID. With the departure of key senior players, a lot of pressure fell on the remaining players to continue the hot streak this season, and they have.

With a 6-8 record placing them eighth in the Manhattan AAA division, the Storm were only two games off of a playoff berth, with two of their losses coming down to the last play. The team played an additional 10 non-league games in which they went 5-5.  

The season started devastatingly after the Storm lost an overtime thriller and another tight home game against the two main teams they would be fighting for a playoff spot with—Graphic Communication Arts and Bayard. A few games later, the team found themselves with a rough 2-5 record but were able to pull off an upset in an away game at Graphic Communication Arts, keeping their playoff hopes alive. However, just two games later, in a must-win matchup against Percy E. Sutton, despite a 15-point fourth quarter comeback, the Storm were unable to convert on the game-deciding play, losing 54-56 and ending their playoff hopes. But through the highs and lows, Stuy fans always showed out. Home games brought along a vibrant atmosphere in a gym full of parents, students, the cheer team, and even teachers.

While the Storm are disadvantaged in some areas, such as the average size of their players, they use their strategic ability to gain an edge over their opponents. The Storm runs a defense that focuses on protecting their interior. “We play a mixture of zone and man but mainly zone defense,” junior forward Samay Kothari said. “We tend to let teams try to beat us from outside the arc instead of getting to the rim.” Because they overcompensate by playing zone defense that focuses on defending big men around the rim, it leaves the three-point line exposed, a risk they are willing to take. They use a similar strategy when it comes to their offense. “For offense, we do a lot of off-ball movement, and a lot of our plays have to do with passing the ball into the paint and then getting it out to the guards… we also drive and kick,” Kothari said. By having Kothari, as well as senior co-captain and center David Glick and senior forward Winson Zheng bring the ball into the paint, defenders around the perimeter are brought out of position, freeing up space for the Storm’s three-point shooters. This strategy has worked as Glick, Zheng, and Kothari have averaged three, two, and five assists per game respectively, and the team has scored 76 three-pointers this season. However, their offense is not one-sided as they have a strong game across the board with Kothari, Glick, and senior guard Ichiro Goodrow, who have scored 71, 42, and 35 field goals during this season respectively. 

The success that the team experiences on the court actually starts from what the team does off the court. The team doesn’t simply come in on game days to play, but also adheres to a strict practice schedule every day starting weeks before the season even begins. This practice involves improving basketball skills as well as preparing for each team the Storm plays. “Coach Sewell helps make sure that we’re improving on our weaknesses and preparing for specific teams and their players’ strengths and weaknesses,” Glick said. “He helps us watch film, understand the game, and grow our skills.” Even outside the season, Coach Sewell makes sure that the team remains fresh and is always improving as they have weight room sessions, conditioning, practice, scrimmages, and even games in out-of-school leagues. This is key to developing all of the players on the team and making sure that during the nine months where the Storm don’t play, everyone is still getting better. Though the leadership that Coach Sewell and captains Glick and Asher Jiang bring to the team is extremely valuable, it's the way that all of the players step up as leaders for the sake of the team that has led to a lot of the team’s success. “All the guys on the team help to push each other. By bringing their best, they make sure everyone else has to bring their best,” Glick said.

The seniors have done a terrific job picking up where the team before them left off but also have helped train the team’s future starters. Furthermore, the non-seniors on the team have also stepped up this year. Junior forwards Frank Zheng and Kothari have both been key players in this year’s rotation, and other juniors such as forward Ian Buchanon, guard Terrance Liao, and fan-favorite forward Vitaly Pyagay have all shown that they have the ability to compete and will continue to improve. 

For next year, the team will continue to struggle with size as forwards Zheng and Kothari are only 6’2, which is small compared to the 6’4 Glick. For the team, this means playing a different style of basketball with further emphasis on guarding the interior and getting rebounds defensively, as these are their biggest weak points, and finding and taking good shots on the exterior offensively, as this is one of their biggest strengths. Furthermore, in losing four of their five leading scorers, there is uncertainty about who will have to step up to fill the gap that is being created. However, despite these changes and challenges, the team is confident in their future: “We are going to the playoffs next year. 100 percent,” Pyagay said. With an eight month off-season to come, the team will continue to put in hard work and will be ready to take the league by Storm.