AJ AbuSaab takes a big step forward for first-place Syosset
AJ AbuSaab was a Syosset reserve during last season’s 20-1 run that ended in the Nassau Class AA semifinals. He moved up to start at point guard this season and is one of the big reasons why this basketball team has resembled a county contender again.
“AJ has really taken a step forward,” coach Greg Cardona said.
The 6-1 junior was averaging 16.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.0 steals through Thursday’s play, helping Syosset go 13-2 overall and 6-1 in Nassau AA-I, good for first place.
AbuSaab had scored as many as 25 twice. He scored 11 in that semifinal loss to Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK. Then he started for Jordan’s U16 national team last summer.
“I knew he was going to be a special player,” Cardona said. “… This year, he kind of was going a little too fast at the beginning of the year. I kind of just let him know: ‘Let the game come to you. You don’t need to go a million miles an hour all the time.’ ”
But AbuSaab excels in transition and taking the ball to the basket.
“That’s basically my game,” he said. “That’s what I do best.
“Coach always tells me I’m the best transition player he has ever seen. When I get the rebound, I just look to push, try to find my teammates. Or if I have the layup, I just go finish.”
Lyman rises at Kings Park
Matt Lyman tried out for basketball at William T. Rogers Middle School in Kings Park as a seventh-grader, but he was cut.
The following four seasons, he made his school teams but hardly got to play. Last season, he was basically a practice player for the Suffolk Class A champion Kings Park varsity.
Lyman never thought of quitting over the years, saying, “I loved it from the beginning.” So he kept working at improving. Now the 6-0 senior guard/forward is a starter for a Kingsmen team that leads Suffolk III at 10-1 and is 12-5 overall.
“I have so much satisfaction,” Lyman said. “I remember I was devastated when I didn’t make the team in seventh grade. … And now I’m finally here. Every game means so much to me because I know the hard work that I put in every day.”
He said he sees his role as making his layups, diving for loose balls and mainly just playing hard out there and giving “energy to the team.” He has also stood out drawing charges.
“It’s everything that’s good about high school sports,” coach Chris Rube said. “Nowadays, many kids would have just given up and found an excuse. And instead he found a way.
“And he earned it. It was 100% him. He did everything he was supposed to and willed his way to not just a spot on our team, but a starting spot and an integral role. He’s willing to do whatever it takes. I couldn’t be more proud of him. He’s everything that I love about coaching high school basketball.”