Uniondale’s relentless pressure defense is all about creating chaos. Clog the passing lanes, clamp down on your dribblers. Steal the ball, steal your heart.
“We create enough ball pressure to turn you sideways,” Uniondale coach Tom Diana said. “It’s tough to play sideways against us.”
That’s because the Knights, especially on defense, are always going forward, forcing you left when you want to go right; forcing you right when you want to go left. Forcing your hand.
“Defense is our number one thing,” center Justice Townsend said. “We work hard on it in practice every day. Tonight it paid off.”
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Uniondale made 26 steals that produced points in bunches on the way to an impressive 74-39 victory over host Farmingdale Tuesday night in a Nassau AA1 game.
Even though the Knights (3-0) didn’t shoot particularly well, they had many more scoring opportunities thanks to their defense and equally relentless rebounding. Townsend, a 6-4 senior in his first year as a starter, grabbed 18 rebounds, including 13 offensive boards that led to numerous second-chance points.
“That was the best game of his career,” Diana said.
Townsend said he “had a feeling” he would have a big game and said his rebounding is “automatic. It’s what I’m supposed to do.”
Guard Kyle Harding is supposed to shoot, and the 6-2 guard did just that, sinking three treys and scoring 22 points. He also contributed nine rebounds and six steals. Sophomore guard Danny Ashley also made six steals.
“We were aggressive in the passing lanes,” Diana said. “Danny and R.J. [Meyers-Turner, a 5-6 freshman guard] did a great job with their ball pressure. We mixed in a full-court man with a trap, but I thought we created more steals with our straight man-to-man.”
Four different players scored as Uniondale opened the game on a 9-0 run. The Knights also began the second quarter on a hot streak, scoring 11 of the first 13 points, with Najee Peters coming off the bench to net seven, including a conventional three-point play as Uniondale built a 33-16 halftime advantage. Peters also snared 12 rebounds.
Farmingdale (1-1) was already well out of it when the Knights’ defense created a flurry of steals that produced a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter. During one sequence, there was three consecutive steals that turned into layups.
“Defense is all about energy,” said Diana. “Even if we don’t shoot well, like tonight, we can always control our energy. We try to wear you down.”
They are the men of steal.