The first thing you noticed when you strolled into Bronx Science’s gym last week was the gleaming new floor the school had put down over the Christmas break.
That was the good news for Bronx Science. The bad news was that, due to the new floor installation, the Wolverines were more or less homeless in the interim with no place to practice for nearly two weeks. Circumstances that could make for a very nervous head coach as the second half of the season tipped off last week.
“We were displaced from our gym for the duration of our break,” Bronx Science head coach Michael Mei said. “I had to give girls individual workouts and hope that they got the job done.”
Mei need not have worried as his Wolverines cruised through their first two games after the break, rolling to a 44-17 laugher over South Bronx before vanquishing John F. Kennedy Campus, 53-29, to up their record to 6-2 in the Bronx A South Division.
Still, Mei was not pleased with his team’s performance despite the lopsided win.
“You’ve heard me say this before. It’s not what the other teams are doing. It’s what we’re doing,” Mei said. “At certain times we just didn’t look like a unified group or a team that has played together and has spent a good amount of time together. We just looked kind of disconnected.”
Carolina Lopez chalked it up to rust as the Wolverines were coming off considerable downtime over the holidays.
“We didn’t practice the entire time we were off, and that was about a week and a half,” said Lopez, Science’s sophomore guard who led all scorers with 15 points. “So we needed to brush up on our plays before the game because we were a little rusty. We weren’t able to practice as much — and we practice every day — so when you don’t practice in so long, your skills are not up to par in your first game back. But once we play a few more games, we’ll be fine.”
The victory over Kennedy was never in doubt for the Wolverines as they opened a 21-10 lead after the first quarter and held a comfortable 29-14 cushion at intermission. And when Science scored the first eight points of the second half, the Wolverines’ lead was extended to 37-14, and JFK never got closer than 16 points the rest of the way.
“In the second half we pick it up defensively,” said Lopez, who was a key defensive contributor, holding the Lady Knights to just two field goals in the fourth.
“We talked about it at halftime that we needed to communicate more and shift on defense. It was also like our bodies were not ready to play in the beginning and we were just jogging on defense. But in the second half, we started sprinting to our spots.”
But Mei would have liked a crisper game, and he wasn’t going to let the layoff be a reason for not receiving optimal play from his Wolverines.
“Not practicing is not an excuse for not knowing your plays, and that’s what it comes down to,” Mei said. “We have to pay more attention to details. When we’re talking about a potential trip to the playoffs, it’s going to come down to which team pays attention to details and who executes those details.”
The playoffs are a little over a month away. But with just 10 games remaining in the regular season, Mei and Lopez both know that it will be a brutal grind down to the wire in a loaded South Division. And the Wolverines know it would be ill-advised for them to take any nights off.
“We’re probably going to send four or five teams from our division to the playoffs,” Mei said. “So every night is a tough game. This was a very physical game, and I’ll be honest, right now we don’t deal well with that physicality. So we’re going to have to step up our physicality if we want to compete late in the season and have a good run in the playoffs.”
Lopez thinks the Wolverines will answer the bell when it comes to improving their physical play down the stretch.
“We can definitely do that,” Lopez said. “We just need to gain more confidence. We definitely have the physical ability to do it. We just need to do it. We’re going to get hurt sometimes, but that’s just what we need to do.”