The 2012-2013 season was one of many highlights for the FDR High School boys’ basketball team.
In an impressive turnaround from a 6-11 campaign the year before, the Presidents finished 17-4, with strong leadership and play from co-captains Felix Riascos and Jack Raimo, as well as Derek Hart.
The team enjoyed success in the postseason as well, advancing all the way to the Section 9, Class AA finals, where they lost to Kingston High School, 80-52.
With those top players all now graduated, FDR will have to rely on other upperclassmen to lead the way for the 2013-2014 season.
Head coach Kevin Hart says that the key to success this season will be the play of his guards. Seniors Jack Coppola and Isaiah Cotton, as well as juniors Ruben Jimenez and Ishmael Chisholm, will primarily be in charge of bringing the ball up the court for the Presidents.
“Our guards are definitely a strength of our team,” Hart told the Observer. “We are really looking to push the tempo on offense this year, and those four guys are definitely going to play big roles for us this year.”
On defense, FDR has been known to play aggressive full-court, man-to-man defense, something that Hart will continue to emphasize to his players this season.
“We preach defense on a nightly basis. It is going to be something to be something that will be key to our success,” Hart said. “Everything is going to come off our defense.”
Team chemistry remains another point of emphasis for the Presidents. Already, the head coach has seen his team connect on and off the court.
“The kids are definitely [working] together and that will benefit us throughout the season,” Hart said.
FDR basketball will dedicate this season to longtime boys basketball and baseball coach Duane Davis, who died Nov. 4 at the age of 73. Davis was an icon at the school, coaching basketball for 17 seasons and baseball for 28, amassing 517 victories combined in both sports.
Hart, who played basketball for Davis during his years as an FDR student, says that Davis, who became his assistant head coach in 2009, will be greatly missed, but his legacy and influence on the program will live on.
“He really molded me into a better coach through his teaching and practices,” Hart said.
Competing in Class AA again this year, FDR will face such strong teams as Red Hook, Marlboro, and New Paltz. The Presidents will host New Paltz in its first home game of the year on Dec. 17.
Before starting the regular season, FDR will play three scrimmages on the road. Including the season opener, that means the team will play four straight games away from its home court to begin the season.
Hart says that while the opening away schedule will be a challenge, it will ultimately help his team in the long run.
“I think it’s a great test of your team’s character, playing on the road,” Hart said. “You got to be able to win on the road, especially in hostile environments, which we will be playing in.”
With its sights on another strong season, FDR hopes to continue to excite the community.
“We are just asking the community to support us on a nightly basis,” Hart said.
Following its scrimmages, FDR will open its season Dec. 10 against Ellenville High School in Ellenville. Tipoff is scheduled at 4:15 p.m.