WILMINGTON- There’s a new sense of excitement for St. Elizabeth’s boys’ basketball program for the 2016-17 season, and there’s a lot to be excited about. Eric Hicks, Elijah Dockery, and Jordan Money are entering their senior seasons, only three rotation players are not returning this season, and a new varsity coaching staff has taken over.
Matt Rubincam makes his return to St. Elizabeth after five seasons as the head man at Wilmington Charter. Rubincam spent 20 years as an assistant at St. Elizabeth under longtime coach, Dick Rago, before leaving for Charter. He brings with him former Viking player and assistant, Aaron Lewis, and another former Viking assistant and basketball lifer, Tom Nagle, to fill out his varsity staff. “The excitement level is very high for all the coaching staff,” Rubincam said, “we have changed everything from last year, except a few of our defensive schemes. All new plays, all new drills, and new enthusiasm for the upcoming season.”
Whenever there is a coaching change, there is a bit of a feeling out process for both the coaches and players but Rubincam says it has been smooth sailing this preseason. “All the players have adjusted to our system and seemed eager for a change. This is a work in progress. Once we develop full trust in one another, we will become a better team.” Rubincam continued, “The first day of practice we talked about MYTH’S they heard about us as a staff, and the MYTH’S our coaching staff heard about them. We started on a fresh plate.”
During the pre-season the Vikings looked dominant in all three of their preseason scrimmages. The talented group looked to be clicking on all cylinders, and rarely looked fatigued on the floor. “It is all about the intensity laid out in practice,” Rubincam proclaimed, “Our practices are planned out for a two-hour period and we constantly keep them moving and, more importantly, focused.” With all the talent on the St. Elizabeth roster, I asked coach how he planned to keep everybody playing to their potential. “Open communication is key with the players and staff. The players set a goal in the summer and are working extremely hard to achieve that goal.”
The Vikings return one of the quickest and smartest point guards in the state in Elijah Dockery, a great inside-outside threat in junior, Nate Thomas, the athletically gifted, Eric Hicks, and leading scorer, and one the states’ top overall players in Jordan Money. With all this talent, expectations are high for the Vikings. Coach Rubincam says he expects his team to, “have some rough spots as they adjust to us and we adjust to them, but I expect them to give me 100% throughout the season and hopefully we will be there at the end of the season.”
The “VKNation,” as the Viking community likes to call themselves, will have one of the toughest boys’ basketball schedules in the state this season. The Vikings will play nine teams this season that played in the DIAA Boys Basketball Tournament last season (Howard, Concord, Salesianum, St. Mark’s, Sanford, Smyrna, Appoquinimink, Caravel, William Penn). They also play in two exposure showcases, in Philadelphia, this season. They will play La Salle College HS (PA) in the “Jameer Nelson Classic” on December 30th at Widener University, and Patterson HS (MD) in the “Kobe Bryant Classic” at Chestnut Hill College on January 21st, for two tough out of state opponents. This rigorous schedule is something that coach Rubincam looks at as a positive for his team saying, “these games will make us a better team and prepare us for the tournament. When you play good teams, you will hit some road blocks, but in those road blocks, you find the true character of your team.”
The St. Elizabeth Vikings start regular season play on Friday, December 2nd in the A.I. duPont Tip-Off Tournament, against Christiana. Their home opener is December 13th against Howard.
For the complete schedule for the Vikings, visit www.vikings-sports.com.