Final-Leg RunnerLt. James Diana - Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement. Since 1995, Jim…
Tamblyn (Newark) and Dave Manwiller (Camden-Wyoming)
Jesse Benson (Dover), Malik Bradford (Wilmington), Eric Bruce (Wilmington), Jayquan Butcher (Dover), Timothy Jones (Wilmington), Jeffrey Marconi (Hockessin), David McElrath (Wilmington), Anthony Thomas (Wilmington), Elerece Thomas (Dover), and Jerome Watson (Seaford)
The sport of basketball is the consummate team game, where success is achieved when a group of players are willing to sacrifice their individual aspirations to help the team reach it’s goals.
The hoops squad representing Delaware at the Special Olympics USA Games is comprised of players hailing from all areas of the state who are extremely talented on the basketball court, but just as importantly, get along off it.
“During the tryouts, we spent most of our time looking at not only the basketball talent, but the interaction with the rest of the people,” head coach Ed Capodanno said of the three days of tryouts. “The culture of the team is most important to us. How well the players communicate, how their personalities mesh together. Other than their physical and skill capabilities, the personalities of the players was a top criteria. We believe have the perfect mix. We’ve been really good together the past several months and have created a really good culture. There’s no doubt, we made the right player selections.”
Those players will bring their skills and personalities to Orlando and have the opportunity to play on the biggest stage any of them have ever been on inside the Visa Athletic Center on the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
“We’ve talked about it,” Capodanno said. “They are excited about it. They are really looking forward to playing in the arena and having that experience.”
The team has been practicing since the fall when the focus at first was on getting in basketball shape and developing, or in some cases, re-developing, the fundamental skills after what was a two-year hiatus away from the courts for many of the players thanks to covid. But now the practice plans are centered around learning plays for every situation, from the jump ball to offenses and defenses, to possible last-second plays that could determine the outcome of a game.
“We started out with fundamentals of the game for first two months because nothing can be accomplished if you’re not fundamentally sound,” Capodanno explained. “Then we started to get more into team play the next couple of months, focusing on zone defense and offense. From there we progressed to pressing and breaking presses and out-of-bounds plays. And now we are focusing on man-to-man offenses and defenses. By June, we will have the entire package in place.”
Once in Orlando, the team will play in preliminary rounds and then be placed in a division based on its ability. From there, every game counts as the quest for the gold begins.
“Our goal is really to be competitive down there and for each individual player to play to their skill level,” Capodanno said. “Winning a medal is a discussion we’ve had, but we’ve talked more about every player playing every game to the best of their individual skill level. If we do that, it’s been a success regardless of whether we win a medal or not.”