Plum boys looking to develop consistency, return to playoffs

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Thursday, December 3, 2020 | 12:49 PM


The Plum boys basketball team just missed out on a playoff appearance last season.

The Mustangs were hovering between fourth and fifth place in Section 3-5A and needed crucial wins down the stretch to secure their first playoff berth since the 2015-16 season.

They dropped three of their final five games, though, including a 66-55 section loss against Indiana, a team they had beaten by 29 points earlier in the season, and missed out by a game.

The Mustangs are looking to change all of that this season, and second-year coach Mark Marino is looking for his team to become more consistent.

“We just want to develop a little bit more consistency and be a little more consistent on offense,” Marino said. “But I mean, everyone wants to be a little more consistent on offense. We just want to eliminate over-dribbling and move the ball a little better offensively. I think that’s one of our biggest keys this year on (offense). We just need to recognize that the ball can’t stick in our hands.”

In order to do that, the Mustangs will have to get everyone involved in the offense, which is a conversation that Marino had with star guard Connor Moss last season.

As a junior, Moss scored 24 points per game for the Mustangs, but at the end of the season, Marino challenged him to use the offseason to improve every other aspect of his game.

“We relied on him so much last year to score. He recognizes that for him to take that next step, we’re looking for him to be a better rebounder, defender and make guys around him better offensively,” Marino said.

Although the Mustangs were hampered by the covid pandemic, like every other team in the country, and weren’t able to do much this offseason, Marino said that he saw spurts of Moss’ improvement through AAU tape and the short time they had together in the summer and fall.

Alongside Moss, senior forward Max Matolcsy and senior guard Ta’Rasi Means started last season and provided valuable minutes for the Mustangs.

Although he was somewhat undersized, standing just 6-foot-1, Matolcsy provided the Mustangs with a solid paint presence, battling against the bigger forwards and centers.

When the Mustangs return to practice, which is scheduled for Monday Marino also is looking for Means to take a big step forward.

“He’s very, very, good athletically,” Marino said. “He has one of the quickest first steps I’ve seen in terms of getting past his defender, and we’re really excited about his growth this year.”

Seniors Will Brewer and Alex Mitolo should see a significant increase in minutes this season. Marino said Brewer played predominantly JV last year and got a few varsity minutes along the way, but they are excited to bring his energy to the varsity level full time this season.

“He plays extremely hard, and that’s now a skill in today’s game, just as much passing or dribbling the ball,” Marino said. “So, our coaching staff is extremely excited because he brings a tremendous amount of energy when he’s on the floor.”

After Marino took over before last season, the Mustangs took a little bit of time to become accustomed to the coach’s expectations and what he wants his team to accomplish each game or how he wants them to play. He said toward the end of last year they started to settle into those expectations.

Now they are looking to build on them further.

Plum boys at a glance

Coach: Mark Marino

Last year’s record: 8-14 (7-7 Section 3-5A)

Returning starters: Connor Moss (Sr., G); Max Matolcsy (Sr., F); Ta’Rasi Means (Sr., G)

Top newcomers: Cameron Moss (Jr., F); A.J. Hereda (Jr., F)

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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