NORTH ANDOVER – For a couple days in early December, Kyle White wondered what he had signed on for.
A stiff regimen of running, more running and those notorious “16s,” also known as the dreaded, never-ending full-court sprint drill.
Then in one late intra-squad scrimmage, it apparently clicked. White’s unit pushed the basketball up the floor and he fired up a quick 19-footer.
There was silence.
Nothing, no bark or bite from first-year coach Paul Tanglis.
“Everyone on this team has the green light. Thing are just very different, and it’s a lot of fun,” said the senior White, who spent much of last year struggling with a more regimented and star-driven North Andover attack a year ago.
Times have changed with the changing of the guard at the helm of the North Andover boys basketball program.
Mike McVeigh, for 31 years and 497 wins, worked the Knights’ bench as the consummate tactician and technician.
When you think of “McVeigh Ball,” you immediately see an Isaiah Nelsen making the perfect high-low entry pass from the foul-line to the box to teammate Zach Bardwell for a well-earned layup.
Every step of the sequence – brilliantly drilled – from the ball-fake and bounce pass to the perfect seal and position.
“What coach did here for all those years was simply amazing,” said the 32-year-old Tanglis, a three-year varsity player for the McVeigh and the Knights basketball program.
“I’ve been asked the question so many times about filling his shoes,” said Tanglis. “That’s not going to happen. I’m going to make my own mark, and just start my own new chapter with the program.”
Tanglis’ new-age Knights are the talk of the Valley, at least here in the first-third of the season, breaking to out to an unexpected 5-1 start. Last Sunday night, a program that was destined for a major rebuilding season by most outside sources, one that fell to rock bottom in the North Andover Fall League – actually trailing 25-0 to St. John’s Prep – did the unthinkable.