The days are getting shorter, the leaves are beginning to fall, and Tam High is humming with anticipation. Winter is coming and it’s basketball season folks. This means it’s time for another three month hoops binge where I spend a ridiculous amount of time, money, and emotional investment in the Tam Varsity basketball squad.
Boys’ basketball head coach Tim Morgan sat perched on the bleachers in Gus Gym, whistle teetering between his lips. His eyes darted back and forth across the court, tracking his players as they endured their 10th sprint of the day.
“Build on last year, that’s the key,” Morgan said. “Take all the almosts and let last year’s pain motivate us.”Morgan is referring to a very successful 2016-17 campaign in which the Hawks posted a 21-12 record, and followed up a heartbreaking MCAL playoff defeat with an improbable NCS run to the championship game that left them one possession away from winning the title in their first year in the Division II bracket. This season will mark Morgan’s four year as head coach.
The past three years, he has led his team to the MCAL and NCS playoffs.
“I think we’ve successfully changed the culture of Tam hoops,” Morgan said. “Now it’s time we cash in on what we’ve built. This is a special group of seniors and I know they’re on a mission this year.”
The senior heavy squad will be led by third-year varsity player and reigning first-team all league senior point guard Jack Duboff. He will be complemented by fellow seniors Noah Haynesworth, Ryan Hemmeter, Timothy Kim, Josh Love, and Connor Dargan.
“We have a lot of returning talent, and our seniors have been playing together for years,” Duboff said. “This year is the culmination of all our hard work. I’m so excited to get started and perform this year.”
While many players are returning Morgan and assistant coach Lorenzo Bynum will be tasked with replacing last year’s most impactful seniors, Jordan Jackson and Jacob Moeller. Kim and Hemmeter are poised to make major offensive contributions, while Haynesworth will continue to be an elite defender and above the rim force.
“We have the tools, we’ve had the tools. This year it’s a matter of putting in the work and executing,” Haynesworth said. “I’m supremely confident in in our guys, I can’t wait to see Gus Gym packed and rocking. We are going to produce.”
Two pre-league home games highlight the non-MCAL schedule. The Hawks will open the season at home vs Montgomery on Saturday, November 25 at 5 PM; a rematch of last year’s NCS semi-final, which Tam won 57-48. Nearly a month later, Miramonte will come to town for a holiday classic at 7 PM on December 22. When the calendar turns to 2018, the Hawks will open at home against Justin-Siena on January 3 before traveling to San Marin on January 6.