Watch ’s girls basketball team during warm-ups, and a couple of things stand out almost immediately. The drills involve more passing than most teams use, and rarely do you see any players standing around. There’s almost no dribbling, either.
And that’s exactly how the RedHawks play: lots of passing, great ball movement and a transition game that few teams in the state can rival.
“Our goal is to always keep running, keep the fast breaks, keep the defense on their heels,” senior Randyll Butler said. “Having played with these girls for so long, it’s pretty easy to know what we like and what we do.”
The RedHawks had 16 assists on 18 buckets in the first half, most of which came in the open court. Thanks to a defense that forced eight first-quarter turnovers, Marist went up 18-4 after the first quarter, punctuated by an alley-oop layup at the buzzer from point guard Claire Ryan to junior guard JeTaun Rouse.
Marist’s run-and-gun system requires all five players on the floor to be in sync, and one reason for Marist’s early-season success is the chemistry that has developed between teammates who have played together for four-plus seasons in school. The RedHawks returned all five starters from last year’s team that advanced to the sectional semifinals.
Marist coach Mary Pat Connolly thinks they may even be too unselfish at times.
“We try to tell them not to overpass because they have a tendency to do that,” Connolly said. “We have five people on the floor that can score.”
Marist’s length and athleticism is sure to give most teams fits on the defensive end, but when the postseason rolls around and the games slow down, transition points will be harder to come by. But as they showed on Monday, the RedHawks seem equally able to score in the halfcourt. And it all stems from their pass-first philosophy.
“It doesn’t matter who scores as long as we score,” Butler said. “It’s a fun way to play, a fun way to do things.”