A Stuyvesant Storm Is Sweeping Through the League

The Storm have been steadily improving since the inception of this team all the way back in 2020.

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By Zifei Zhao

Almost two years ago, the Stuyvesant boys’ varsity basketball team made a return to in-person play. That team was disproportionately young, with 15 underclassmen, and they finished a distorted season just 2-5. Now, after two seasons and an entire team rebranding in the 2022-2023 season, eight of those 15 players are still on the team. The chemistry developed over years together is a huge part of why the Stuyvesant Storm have continuously improved. Last year, they made the playoffs with a 9-7 record and finished their season with a valiant effort against Thomas Edison. This year has seemed even stronger, with an undefeated 5-0 start (9-1 including non-league games). The current team is one of the best in the last decade, and their strength comes from the totality of their game.

The Storm’s game starts with defense, and their defense starts with senior and co-captain Sloan Ireland, PSAL Athlete of the Week for the week of December 5. At 6’10”, he towers above most of the PSAL. The Storm run a 2-3 defense, with Ireland in the middle, nearly to perfection. “Our 2-3 defense works very well,” senior and co-captain Adam Sherer said. “We have been running it for so long, and it caters to everyone’s strengths. It allows me to jump passing lanes and get off ball steals. It lets our guards put a lot of pressure up top, and [Ireland] can stay in the paint and doesn’t have to do much except rebound and block shots.” Sherer, who suffered a devastating ACL tear last year, has been having a thoroughly impactful return this season, averaging a 10-11 double-double through four league games. Factor in Ireland, who’s averaging a dominant 18-15, and the Storm have a formidable frontcourt that can put their heads down and score just as well as they can wall off any attempt at their own basket.

In the backcourt, guards and seniors Jeffrey Tan and Kyle Lee run a mostly efficient offense, though it’s not without its flaws. The Storm often face teams faster and more athletic than them, requiring them to put more emphasis on defense. “We are not the most athletic team, and this year especially, we have struggled a lot with shooting, specifically from the three-point and free throw lines,” Sherer said.

However, when the Storm are able to break through, they can cut the opposing defense like butter. “Our best game is when we push the ball in transition, force steals, and get easy layups,” Ireland said. The gritty defensive tactics of the Storm have clearly worked, as they sit undefeated atop the competitive Manhattan A I league. No team has scored over 60 on them in a league match.

Their success on the court starts off the court, and as alluded to earlier, one of their greatest strengths is their chemistry. Some of this dynamic can be attributed to the sheer amount of practice time implemented by Coach Sewell, who was the PSAL Coach of the Week in the same week Ireland was honored. Over the past spring and summer, varsity, junior varsity, and prospective players hooped, lifted, and conditioned with each other in the park and in summer leagues. Now that the Storm are in-season, they practice or play six days a week, rain or shine, with only Sundays off. Sewell is notorious for his grueling practices and emphasis on commitment to the team, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a player who tells you this style is bad for the team. “Coach Sewell is a very stubborn guy, but his coaching does help us reach our potential. He pushes us to practice and play harder,” Sherer said. Out of all of this practice comes a team that plays like a well-oiled machine. Teammates play off each other as if they’ve been doing it for years, because, in many cases, they have. The bench is high-energy and supportive, and when they’re playing efficiently, the Storm can often go on lengthy scoring runs fueled by that enthusiasm. “I think this year is the culmination of all the team chemistry and work we’ve put in together over the last three seasons. It has the potential to surpass the previous teams’ accomplishments,” Sherer said.

Looking forward, the Storm hope for a deep playoff run this year. Their undefeated start has been historic, the best start to a season since 2008. They defeated Bayard Rustin for the first time in seven years. Contributions from bench players such as sophomore and crafty point-forward Samay Kothari and junior and forward David Glick have been integral. Kothari hit a huge three-pointer in the last five seconds of the Storm’s Seward Park game to force overtime, and Glick has been a key contributor when starters are in foul trouble or need a rest. As per usual, the team’s greatest obstacle will be Murry Bergtraum. Bergtraum nearly always finishes at the top of the standings with an undefeated record. However, last year, the Storm came within the closest margin of beating the powerhouse, and they hoped to finish the job this year in their first matchup on Monday, December 19.

Expectations for the Storm haven’t been this high in years. “If we play like we can, this team can make a very, very deep playoff run this year. I think anything less than two playoff wins would be a disappointment for us,” Sherer said. The Storm have been steadily improving since the inception of this team all the way back in 2020. This year, they have proved their chemistry and strength for five games in a row, with no sign of slowing down.