By Christian Mordi / @askchrismordi on IG
Team: Newark West Side
Record Last season: 25-7, 10-2 in conference play, Group 2 Champions
Key players: James Bell, junior
Potential emerging stars: Deshawn Latham, junior
Team analysis: The RoughRiders are a legitimate force in the New Jersey basketball scene.
While many expected the team to take steps backwards after the graduation of All-State guard Isiah Reyes, West Side showed up when it mattered most, defending their Group 2 title against Camden.
This year will test the coaching prowess of the Roughriders staff, as the program has graduated four of their top five scorers from last year’s team. West Side does a great job of mixing up their defenses. They make teams uncomfortable as much as possible, which often leads to turnovers and easy baskets. This may be a bit difficult in the early part of the year, as it will take time for new players to gel in their new roles on this team.
One thing that will surely work in their favor from the door is their willingness to push the ball on the break. They advance the ball every time and look for easy baskets. Transfer guard Deshawn Latham fits this style perfectly, as he is a creative ball handler who finishes well in transition.
West Side’s does a great job building a rigorous schedule. Their division is stacked, featuring teams like Montclair Immaculate, Newark East Side, Newark Central and more. While many would look to take a break in out of conference play, The RoughRiders do the opposite. They load up on big games as much as possible and work hard to get better as the season progresses.
For all teams in the Group 2 hell bent on revenge, remember these wise words from swag god Ric Flair: “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.”
West Side is ready.
Stat to know: The Rough Riders graduated three All Group 2 members this off season.