Forty-one points per game, close to 30 rebounds, the leadership and toughness that came with those numbers. They are gone, off to college.
And Transit Tech coach Mike Perazzo doesn’t expect Rhamel Brown, Barry Posey and Deylon Bovell to be forgotten.
“When you lose players of that caliber — not only players, but kids — you never replace them,” Perazzo said.
Life, of course, goes on in East New York for the Express, the Cinderella story of last postseason, the 11th seed coming up just shy of getting all the way to Madison Square Garden for the PSAL Class AA title game.
Perazzo is confident his backcourt of Shaquille Paugh and Anthony Prescott can hold its own against any the city has to offer. He likes his junior forward Richard Williams, a long and skilled 6-foot-3 wing. And he is hopeful Jamal Celestine, Alex Rivera and Jonathan Jones — none of which are over 6-foot-3 — can produce in the paint despite being vastly undersized.
“We’ve set the same goals as a team we set the last five years,” Perazzo said. “We want to improve as the year goes be, we want to qualify for the playoffs and be in the Brooklyn borough playoffs. We’re not gonna do anything differently.”
That means Transit Tech will still run its confounding flex offense, play hard-nosed man-to-man defense and play with the kind of intensity Perazzo demands from the opening tip to final whistle. Even if the Express does all those things to the best of its ability, it will be an uphill climb in Brooklyn AA, the city’s best division which seemingly got better during the offseason.
Defending city champion Boys & Girls returned virtually its entire team while adding Hillcrest transfer Malik Nichols, a Hofstra recruit. Ditto for Thomas Jefferson and Lincoln, who has arguably the best freshman in the city in 6-foot-2 guard Isaiah Whitehead. Led by dynamic sophomores Terrence Samuel and Shamiek Sheppeard, South Shore is a year older and therefore wiser and Robeson has one of the best guards around in Darrell Lucky.
“Our division is like the NBA,” said Prescott, who averaged 13 points per game a season ago.
There will be a lot of responsibility hoisted upon Prescott’s capable shoulders. In his two previous varsity seasons, he has shown flashes of potential, a mixture of accurate long-distance shooting and effective penetrating. Now, he will need to be Transit Tech’s focal point on a nightly basis.
“I have no doubt he can be one of the better players in the city, but for us he needs to be a leader, by example and verbally with our team being so young,” the coach said. “I’m sure he’ll be up to the challenge. He always is.”
“Now people are relying on me,” Prescott added. “I have to step up. No excuses.”
Transit Tech has faced long odds before. After winning consecutive PSAL Class A title in 2007 and 2008, it moved up to Brooklyn AA and reached the quarterfinals.
“I believe we can compete,” Prescott said. “It’s more mental than physical. We’ll be undersized, but if everybody is on the same page and everybody plays hard, we can be a threat.”