Winslow coach, players focusing on strategy
You could almost hear the gears spinning in Jean Gyurics' mind. Most coaches love thinking and talking the game of basketball.
You could almost hear the gears spinning in Jean Gyurics' mind.
Most coaches love thinking and talking the game of basketball.
And here was Gyurics rattling off, probably faster than she realized, all the different ways, sets and scenarios that could lead to success for her Winslow Township girls' team.
Gyurics was practically salivating over the possibilities, and that's no surprise.
But what's most impressive about her team - even more so than its uncommon athleticism - is that the players are thinking the game just as much as she is, and they're just as excited about the possibilities.
"My main focus this season is working on our mismatches," 6-foot senior forward Jada Matthews said.
"The low blocks, bringing people out to the wing. . . . We have a lot of players who are not only tall, but athletic. We can either run people in transition or play a mid-post game and a power game in the half court.
"So I think this year, especially, we're focused on exploiting mismatches and doing what we do best."
Matthews, a George Washington recruit, will pair with fellow 6-0 senior forward Jocelynne Jones, a Robert Morris recruit, to give Winslow one of the most dynamic duos in the state.
Both are not only tall but also fast and nimble, tough defenders, and terrific outside shooters.
"We complement each other well," said Jones, who averaged 15.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks as a junior.
"Right now, we're just trying to be leaders and help this team succeed."
Matthews put up similar numbers, averaging 16.3 points, 9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists.
Critical for Matthews is that this is the first season since her freshman year that she will not have to sit the first 30 days because of the transfer rule.
She started her high school career at Winslow, played at Paul VI as a sophomore, and transferred back to Winslow last season.
"I definitely feel more comfortable," Matthews said.
"It's nice that I can actually start right away. I think us playing together, and me being there from Game 1, will make a difference.
"It cuts out any interruptions or distractions. It gives us more time to build chemistry."
Matthews and Jones are surrounded by talent, including freshman point guard Amaiyah Melvins, who Gyurics thinks also could emerge as a star, and 6-0 forward Keyonna Filmore.
"Jada and Jocelynne are great players, great leaders; they're extremely coachable; and they both set examples for the rest of the team on the court and in the classroom," Gyurics said.
"But it's not just about two people for us. We're always talking about different scenarios and situations, and that involves everyone. If we're going to win a state title, we have to execute in every phase of the game, just believe in the system."
The team's talent is glowingly obvious, but the Eagles seem to have a mature grasp of that fact. And when they think of this season, talent is not the first thing that comes to mind.
"We know we have the talent," Matthews said. "We know that talent is not our issue this year. It's just the preparation and the work that we put into it - the extra hours, putting extra shots up after practice, making sure we're all on the same page, that we're executing - that's really what's most important for us. That's what's going to lead to our success this season."