New Canaan beats Greenwich to give Melzer first win as coach
Updated 12:34 pm, Wednesday, January 4, 2017
NEW CANAAN — It took much longer than he would have liked, but first-year coach Danny Melzer finally has his first win as coach of the New Canaan Rams.
“It feels great,” said Melzer, who spent the last four seasons at the helm for Stamford. “I was worried after the Berlin game (a 54-47 loss) where we had the game won and kind of gave it away — I was worried about how they’d respond, and they responded very well.”
Behind some late-game heroics from Luke Crawford, New Canaan was able to down Greenwich 50-47 Tuesday night at home; snapping the Rams’ five-game losing streak to start the season.
Down 47-46 with 15 seconds left, Crawford made a backdoor cut, got a pass and laid the ball in as he was fouled.
The junior, who led all scorers with 18 points, converted the free throw, giving the Rams a 49-47 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
And it wasn’t just Crawford executing for New Canaan.
The Rams got quality minutes from Tim Russo (12 points), Tyler Sweeney (12) and point guard Nick Crovatto (4). Melzer said if his team is going to be successful, they’ll have to be balanced.
“For years, it’s been Tyler Sweeney and everybody else,” Melzer said. “Tonight, it wasn’t that; it was Timmy Russo making big shots, Luke Crawford making the big bucket at the end, Nick running our offense all night. Everyone who got in the game tonight contributed and brought energy, and that’s what we need.”
Russo had the first six points of the game for the Rams (1-5 1-1), all on mid-range jumpers, and Sweeney hit a buzzer-beating floater to give New Canaan a 26-21 lead at the half.
Sweeney would begin the third with a 3-pointer, but Greenwich (2-4, 1-1) switched to a full-court press, giving the Rams all types of fits.
“It was kind of impromptu,” Greenwich coach Patrick Heaton said of the defensive switch, which was suggested by one of the players at halftime. “We haven’t practiced it a lot but it made a difference tonight. We want to switch it up on defense a little bit between zone and man and hopefully we can be more consistent in our offense.”
With the press creating trap-opportunities and extra possessions, Greenwich took a 34-33 lead in the third on Elias Gianopoulos’ 3-pointer.
Greenwich would end up with a 9-0 run spanning parts of the third and fourth quarters, but New Canaan battled back, tying the game at 41 on a Crawford basket with 5:30 left.
“They showed a ton of grittiness and a ton of toughness,” Melzer said. “Which is something I’ve been preaching all year long, and it came together tonight.”
Greenwich scored well below its season average of 63 points, which Heaton attributed to a simple cold-shooting night.
If the Cards’ offense can get back on track, combined with the newly implemented full-court press, Heaton isn’t worried about bouncing back from this loss.
“We’ve got bigger goals to accomplish than one game,” Heaton said. “So we’re going to get to work tomorrow and try to get better. I was happy with the effort, we just didn’t execute.”
NEW CANAAN 50, GREENWICH 47
GREENWICH (2-4, 1-1)
NEW CANAAN (1-5, 1-1)
Nick Crovatto 1 2-4 4 Tim Russo 5 2-2 12 Tyler Sweeney 4 3-4 12 Austin Bell 0 1-2 1 Luke Crawford 5 7-7 18 Matt Brand 1 0-0 3. Totals: 16 15-19 50.
GREENWICH 12 9 18 8—47
NEW CANAAN 13 13 9 15—50
3-pointers: G—Pignataro, Gianopoulos, Harkins 3; NC—Sweeney, Crawford, Brand.