LYNN — Sometimes it takes time for a team to adjust to new head coach. With a new coach comes a new system, new routines and new expectations.
The English boys basketball team, however, wasted no time adjusting to Antonio Anderson in his first season as its head coach last winter. Anderson, a former Division I player at Memphis who played in the NBA for Oklahoma City, guided the Bulldogs to a 17-5 record last year and an appearance in the Division 1 North quarterfinals. English lost to Lowell in that quarterfinal game, ending its season.
“I think we did well (last season) for my first year here,” Anderson said. “I think the guys learned a lot. I learned a lot as a coach. The guys competed on a daily basis. At the end of the day, we lost to a team in Lowell with a kid who’s a Division I player (Alex Rivera, who’s now at UMass Lowell). He had a good supporting cast. It was a pretty good season for us.”
The good news for the Bulldogs is they return the majority of last year’s team. Key returners include senior guard/forward Alonzo Linton, senior guard Calvin Seng, junior guard Mason Jean-Baptiste, and sophomore guards Myles Manalaysay and Lou Rivera.
“I think at the end of the day we’re going to be alright,” Anderson said. “We have some guys returning, some new additions. I think as guys learn the system and continue to play together, with more scrimmages and practice, I think we’ll be a competitive group.”
English welcomes the addition of Jarnel Guzman, a junior guard who transferred from St. John’s earlier this month.
“I think Jarnel will fit in well,” Anderson said. “He’s a great student and a great player. Once he gets acclimated with the system I think he’ll be fine.”
Anderson’s said he’s confident in his group.
“All my guys played valuable, big minutes for me last year,” Anderson said. “They’re battle-tested. We faced tough teams. We’ll have another tough schedule this year. We’re looking to have fun. We’ll let the game speak for itself. That’s what they’ve been doing and we’ll continue to build off that.”
English’s main priority is to find itself back in the state tournament next March. Anderson said in order to reach that goal, the Bulldogs will have to apply a day-by-day approach.
“We just want to be a good team,” Anderson said. “At the end of the day our goal’s to play deep into March. That’s what everybody’s goal is. We want to get better every day. As long as we get better every day, everything else will take care of itself.”
Anderson foresees a competitive Northeastern Conference this winter.
“The NEC should be good,” Anderson said. “You have us, Classical, Beverly, Everett, Salem. They’re all going to battle. Marblehead, Somerville, Malden. They’re going to scrap. I don’t know who they have returning. We have to play. I tell the guys not to look at competition as if they’re going to roll over somebody. We have to play.
“We have some tough games,” Anderson continued. “We just have to bring it.”
English will also play a handful of top-notch non-conference opponents including St. John’s, Needham and Mansfield.
The Bulldogs open the season Dec. 12 when they host Charlestown at Paul F. Cavanagh Field House.