Delbarton Basketball: A Year in Review

Green Wave Finishes COVID Season at 8-3


Christian Lalin

This year, Delbarton Basketball finished on an eight-game winning streak and had senior captain Rohin Bobba nominated as one of New Jersey’s Top Players. However, in a year with as much commotion and confusion as 2020 (and the beginning parts of 2021), some people doubted if basketball would have a season at all—let alone be able to finish a complete season. Luckily, the Green Wave had a long-tenured head coach to lead the group. 

On February 22, I had an opportunity to speak with Coach Whalen, the thirty-six-time Delbarton head coach. To begin their season, Delbarton opened up with an unfortunate three-game losing streak before righting the ship and going undefeated the rest of the way. When asked what caused the slow start, Coach Whalen attributed it to a lot of inconsistency in terms of attendance. A rule he has had in place since the beginning of his tenure is that players under no circumstances can miss a practice before a game. However, between contact tracing and sickness, Delbarton had players miss eighteen practices before a game and even played through the games without practice. In fact, Coach Whalen described these incessant changes as “something [he has] never seen before.” 

Despite these barriers, Coach Whalen commended his players for adapting to these changes and pushing forward, and he attributes this to his extensive senior leadership who have been a part of very good teams in the past. The seniors created a competitive environment where the team continued to get better on a daily basis (Seniors: Gary Lewis, Charlie Smith, Rohin Bobba, Alex Paulius, Max Cresti, Jarrett Spada and Elijah Hills). He said that “in a crazy year you really need good leadership from your seniors, and we’ve really got good leadership from our seniors… they’ve been awesome.” 

When asked how the team was able to overcome the early defeats and get on their winning streak, Coach Whalen said that the team was playing really good basketball before the season, but just as the season began the team faced a brief shutdown that caused them to get a little “rusty.” The team had to play without four of their five varsity starters, and in their first game back they faced the number eight team in the state without any practices. Coach Whalen was proud of the way his team played themselves back into shape and finished the year off strong. 

Coach Whalen believes that he has a talented group of players who can continue to play out his philosophies both on offense and on defense. On defense, Coach Whalen says the team has many contributors and they like to play up-tempo on defense in a way that makes their opponent “uncomfortable running their half-court sets and in transition.” Meanwhile, on offense, the team looks to play fast and look for good shot opportunities. The keys to a strong offense in Coach Whalen’s system are “shot selection” and “taking good shots” to set up their “good shooters.” When asked about the future of the team looking onto the 2021-2022 season, Coach Whalen said that it will be “interesting to see” given the fact that four seniors were starting so some underclassmen will have to step up. Overall, Coach Whalen was very proud of his team and their ability to “deal with adversity” and “disappointment” during such trying times and said it spoke to their character and discipline as athletes for all the resilience they displayed day in and day out. Go Green Wave!