On December 18, for the first time since 2018, Andover Boys Basketball traveled to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, home of the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA and New York Liberty of the WNBA to compete against a league opponent.
Four 3-pointers by Eric Tynes ’22 in the last six minutes of the first half shifted the momentum in favor of Andover Boys Basketball, bringing a 14-point deficit to a nine-point deficit. The team ultimately fell to Hotchkiss 57-67, bringing its record, as of December 18, to 3-3.
Head Coach Terrell Ivory ’00 believes the experience of staying in a hotel together in New York and playing at a prestigious arena like the Barclays Center was an excellent experience for the team despite having lost the game.
Coach Ivory said, “Any time you play a game, you have no idea for the most part whether you’re going to win or lose. But the reason why we do that trip is that I think it’s a different experience for the kids. It’s really the only time that we spent the night in the hotel. So we were away from campus during the break. In addition to a really cool opportunity to play in an NBA arena, it’s also sort of a team bonding trip, which I think is always worth it. And I think obviously I would have loved it to have won the game. But even though we lost, I think it was a trip that was sort of good for the team.”
Playing at a professional arena did not come without pressure; Jordan Rayford ’22, who has averaged a free throw percentage of 72.2 percent thus far this season, only made one of his first four free throws. He believes that was due to a combination of having not played in a while and the nerves of being at such a prestigious arena.
“I think I went one for four on my first shots. But I think the main thing was, I hadn’t played in any games like the past three or four. So I think that and then also a little bit of… nerves playing in Barclays played into it,” said Rayford.
According to Keenan Sparks ’24, another factor to the team’s loss was its slow reaction to opponent offensive rebounds. This resulted in Andover conceding 18 offensive rebounds, a figure 71 percent higher than its season average of 10.5.
“I think just boxing out [was a struggle], and we gave up way too many offensive rebounds and just rebounds in general. And I think that really hurt us… [Hotchkiss had] physical players, but, as a team, I don’t think they were that physical, but I think we were just kind of lackadaisical and it was simple as just not boxing out. They wanted it more than us, especially 50-50 balls, too,” said Sparks.
Coach Ivory believes watching game footage and recognizing the problem is the first step to fixing the team’s issue of not boxing out. He says the minor details he can find through film are what the team needs to focus on to succeed throughout the season.
Coach Ivory said, “I think one of the best ways or one of the ways to sort of solve a problem is to make sure you recognize that it is a problem. And so when we are able to practice again, we will work on boxing out in practice in sort of game situations… as we can sort of simulate that. But just showing them with Hudl, [a sports performance analysis program], you can show them. I just showed them every offensive rebound that we gave up and sort of pointed out in those situations, their effort versus our effort, and then having a conversation with them about if we want to be successful; if we want to win, we have to do those little things including boxing out and not allowing them to get offensive rebounds.”
After postponed and canceled games against Belmont Hill and Choate, and a 46-72 loss against Brooks, Andover will travel to Tabor Academy, looking to end its two-game losing streak.