The upcoming season is a defining one for Red Hook boys basketball.
After a disappointing 2011-12 season, in which Red did not capture the Mid Hudson Athletic League title and failed to reach the Section 9 final for the first time since 2002, the Raiders are looking to reorient themselves under new head coach Matt Hayes.
Hayes was appointed in June and replaces the legendary Rod Chando, who retired after 38 years guiding the Red Hook basketball program to the very top.
Hayes has not wasted any time. “(Red Hook has) had open gym sessions once or twice a week. Our team won’t be official until Nov. 12, but most of the guys who will likely be on the team have been regularly attending open gyms,” Hayes told the Observer.
“We also competed in a summer league in Poughkeepsie and are currently playing in the fall league at Bard College,” he added, noting that Red has reached the finals and will play Pine Plains for the crown.
Red’s new coach understands the gravity of Red Hook’s basketball history, and is ready to make his mark.
“One of the many things that is attractive to me about coaching in Red Hook is the desire for continued success. And I’ll coach this year to the best of my abilities using a style that has been successful for the kids I’ve coached in other schools,” said Hayes, who compiled a 9-10 record at Section I Class A John Jay High School in 2010-11 and coached at both Poughkeepsie and Our Lady of Lourdes.
“What I can’t try to do is be Coach Chando,” he added. ” There will be some things utilized by prior Red Hook teams that I will attempt to incorporate this year, but there will be some new looks as well.”
Hayes’ assistant coaches are JV coach Kevin Cayea, in his first season having taken over for Andrew Makebish, and Modified coach Ryan Butch. Hayes called the pair a “tremendous asset.”
The team is also developing very well in the preseason, Hayes said. “I really like the improvement I’m seeing over the last four months. The coaching staff sees a ton of growth. This is one of the most unselfish groups I’ve ever been associated with. Over the last four fall league games, we’re averaging a little more than 13 assists per game,” he said.
It is a transition year for Red Hook, without question. A new coach and altered coaching staff, a revamped playing style, and, according to Hayes, the possibility of having 2-3 freshmen and 2-3 not only on the Varsity squad, but “who are likely to get minutes,” could have a tough run in Section 9 Class A.
But ultimately, Hayes remains upbeat.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time so far with the kids and coaches. The kids are extremely receptive to what we’re trying to do. They play well with one another, compete, and are very coachable. I’m excited to get underway with practices on the 12th,” he said.