NYC National Tournament Team Preview: Syosset disbands its super team
As the New York National Tournament inches closer, it’s time to dive deep into each team and evaluate their roster. The final two team previews before this weekend’s tournament are saved for the two regions that have won the tournament in the past. Today I’ll take a look at RTG out of Syosset.
Ken Koerner (Captain)
Koerner, Mastro and Cox return from last year’s Thundercats roster, while the remaining four players will all be making their national tournament debuts. That certainly leaves a lot of question marks to asses for this team, and it’ll be interesting to see how they come together. This team more closely resembles the runner-up RTG squad from 2017 rather than the super team Thundercats squad from 2018. The talent in this year’s tournament is similar to what we saw last year, so a downgrade from the talent of last year’s semifinal finish may end up being fatal.
Player to Watch
Mastro may not end up being the leading scorer for this team, he may not put up audacious numbers and he may not produce any jaw-dropping highlights, but the newly-enshrined Hall of Famer is back in a more comfortable role with RTG this year, much like he was in 2017.
When RTG made a run to the championship game two years ago, Mastro was a big reason why. He averaged 12.4/10.4/3 on 54% shooting from the field and 38% from deep, all while playing in every minute of their five games. His role was decreased on the Thundercats last year, as RTG combined with them to try and get a second straight title for Syosset, and the numbers and the team success decreased. His points per game were cut in half and the Thundercats lost in the semifinals to the DMV Ballers.
With Mastro back as a focal point for RTG, there’s a chance that his 2017 form returns. It is not the same exact team as in 2017, as they have multiple new pieces, but I’m confident Mastro will put on a better showing in this year’s tournament.
He’s currently averaging 23/12.6/6.9 across Syosset and Garden City this season. He won’t put up those numbers nationally, but if he can average a double-double a game, RTG will have a solid base to build a run around.
I put Koerner into this category mainly because he got hurt in last year’s tournament and wasn’t able to make an impact for the Thundercats. He hurt his ankle in the first game of pool play, which only allowed him to play four minutes in a loss to TD Bulls. He toughed it out against $Ball, playing 12 minutes, but it was clear that he wasn’t going to be able to have his usual impact on a game.
I still have yet to see a fully healthy Koerner play in-person and I’m eager to see how he’ll be able to run this offense. In 2017, he averaged 14.6 points on 43% shooting from the floor and 39% shooting from deep. If he can produce at or above that level, that would be a huge boost to RTG.
This team has sort of a weird makeup, with fewer traditional positions and plenty of wings for switchability on defense. Judging from the size and stats from the newcomers on this team, Koerner will be the main point guard and the engine to the offense. He may not need to score as much as he did in 2017, but he’ll need to have a major impact on both sides of the floor for RTG to have success.
His main burden may end up coming on the defensive end, where RTG may lack options that can guard opposing point guards. Certainly Cox fits that bill, but I’d imagine they’ll have him on bigger players due to his strength. Only time will tell, but I can guarantee if RTG end up making a deep run, a big reason will be because Koerner played at or above expectation.
Lack of options
I don’t mean this at all to disrespect any of the new players to RTG this season. Judging from their numbers in either Syosset or Garden City, they are all good to great players. But I know this team lacks some of the usual suspects from Syosset that we’re used to. Players like Carlos Valdez, Richie Byrd, Chris Frey and Donte Howell will not be playing in this tournament. I’ve been told that a lot of the regular Syosset players are out of town this weekend, which is why Long Island will not be as well-represented this year. It’s unfortunate timing, and it’s interesting to think about who might have been on this team had everyone been available.
Syosset teams have had a way with proving people wrong in the past, but I don’t see how they can replicate past years of success with this roster. There’s not enough talent or depth to take them to the semifinals, as I see at least four teams that are better (on paper). We’ll see if Syosset can silence the doubters once again.