Thursday, February 4, 2010

Excellent forecast for Hoosic Valley's Pallozzi

Hoosic Valley senior forward Kyle Pallozzi dribbles up the court during a game this season. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Kyle Pallozzi is nearing the big event of his high school basketball career: his senior-year Section II playoff run.

But he's also nearing a goal academically.

Pallozzi, who has harbored a life-long interest in meteorology, will deliver a research presentation Saturday morning in the Junior Science and Humanities Eastern New York Sub-Regional Symposium at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School. He has been doing research for the better part of three years in Hoosic Valley's science research course on how topography influences local weather patterns.

"Everybody has something that they’re naturally interested in. For me, it was two things: weather and basketball," Pallozzi said. "Obviously, I’m not going to be a professional basketball player, so I want to be a meteorologist. I’m going to UAlbany next year for that."

The leading scorer in the Wasaren League this season, Pallozzi averages 17.5 points per game, he's also dramatically improved his defense. That came in handy when the Indians' top defender, Alex McNeice, went down with an injured knee in a game against Tamarac on Jan. 8. Not only was Pallozzi Hoosic Valley's primary scoring threat, he instantly became the team's best option on the defensive end, too.

"He’s been playing huge for us on defense," McNeice said. "Last year he wasn’t much of a stopper, but this year, he’s guarding the best guy and shut¬ting him down."

McNeice is back, but he won't be quite 100% tonight when Hoosic Valley (7-4, 11-4) travels to Brunswick to take on Tamarac High (1-10, 4-11) in a Wasaren League game. Varsity tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.

For more on Pallozzi, make sure to check out Friday's edition of The Record, which will also have the latest Section II standings and boys basketball power polls.

I had an interesting chat with Hoosic Valley head coach Dan Calhoun about how he developed his man-on-man defensive philosophy.

I was curious if he had ever thought of playing a different system based on the personnel he had in any particular year. For example, if you have one big center, two rangy forwards and two tough guards, why not play at 2-3 zone? If you have one big center, three rangy forwards and a gritty little point guard, doesn't a 1-3-1 zone make sense? Or, if you know you'll be facing a team with a number of perimeter shooters, why not install a 3-2 zone for a night?

For Calhoun, and his counterpart, Hoosic Valley girls head coach Walter Dorman, it's all about getting your players to buy into your system. That's it. That's the secret.

At Hoosic Valley, the kids are taught young to play man-to-man defense, and before long, they begin to crave that style of basketball. "They just like playing defense," Calhoun said.

Over the years, he's grabbed different things from different coaches and made specific tweaks to slow particular players that have burned his teams in the past. These changes stick and make their way into the lesson plan, making it a system that's extremely simple in theory, but always changing in practice.

"It's like you keep adding spices to the stew," said Calhoun.

He's also teaching on two ends of the court at the same time. Whenever Calhoun teaches a new topic on the offensive end, he always asks: "And how would you guys stop this?"

Calhoun also mentioned how Mechanicville's Joe Loudis was always successful with his relatively unorthodox, at least in Section II, 3-2 zone. He taught it, taught it and taught it and the good teams, well, they weren't the ones that necessarily fit the scheme the best, they were just the ones that bought into it the most.

So, pay attention to the defenses when the Section II postseason starts, because the defense is typically the coach's pet project. It's always interesting to see the man-to-man teams from the Wasaren League clash with the zone defense teams from the Patroon Conference as well.

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