Marist senior guard Colin McAluney had a two-word answer when asked how the War Eagles boys’ varsity basketball team can improve on its 2-4 record entering the Dec. 5 game at Monroe Area: “true grit.”

According to Wikipedia, grit is defined as having perseverance and passion in pursuit of a long-term goal.

“True grit and accountability play a big role in us improving our record and, I believe, everything starts with defense,” McAluney said. “If we can be consistent on defense, our offense will follow.”

The 5-foot, 9-inch son of Matt and Nicole McAluney said if a team can hold an opponent to as few points as possible, its offense will feed off that defensive prowess and can “up” its court attack.

The War Eagles may be doing just that as McAluney said he had seen steady improvement in the team. It is rapidly eliminating mental mistakes and playing more as a team now than in the early going this season, he said.

As a third-year starter and a team leader, McAluney is certainly doing his job, according to War Eagles head coach Kevin Moore.

“Colin is averaging about 12 points a game and hauling in four rebounds per contest in addition to averaging about three steals a game,” he said.

However, it is McAluney’s shooting from 3-point range which is causing opponents additional problems. He is connecting on about 46 percent of his shots from outside the arc, the coach said.

“Colin has been a varsity player the last three years, and he has assumed a much larger role this season. He knows what was expected of him coming into this year and has certainly answered the call.” Moore said. “In addition, three of his backcourt teammates haven’t been available here at the beginning of the basketball season, one from injury and two who are still playing football, so we have asked Colin to do a lot,” the coach said.

Moore said McAluney also has had to mentor the younger, less experienced guards on the varsity squad who have had to fill the role of more experienced players who are not yet on the court for various reasons.

“He has been facilitating the offense like a true floor general as well as taking on the burden of being a go-to option on offense, especially with some of our key go-to guys who are still missing,” Moore said

McAluney said the essence of being a good consistent point guard or shooting guard is that player has to be a leader on the court, keep encouraging his teammates “and always play heads-up basketball.”

“Two elements of this team that have impressed me as a player is our team chemistry and our communications on the floor, both of which are improving each game,” he said.

Prior to the Monroe Area game, McAluney’s best game came against Greater Atlanta Christian Nov. 30, when he connected for 13 points in a 70-60 setback.

From an academic standpoint, his favorite subject in school is economics, as he sees that as continuing to have a big impact on anyone throughout their lives.

As far as any collegiate scholarship possibilities, McAluney, said last year, during Marist’s Christmas tournament, he was approached by a coach from Oxford College at Emory University concerning basketball but nothing since then.

As much as he would like to play college hoops, McAluney said he is concentrating on helping his team improve in every aspect of the game and make it to the state playoffs. As a team leader, McAluney said anyone who is in that role must set the example for other players, which is why he is constantly on the court working on all aspects of his game.

“If I work to improve my game, I hope it will influence others on the team to work on their game skills, because each of our players provides an important element of our overall team performance,” he said. “I believe if you are not working to improve your game, you are actually falling behind in your development as a basketball player, because every opposing team you play is working to improve its game as well.”

Asked to describe himself on the court, McAluney said, “under control.”

“If you, as a team leader, remain calm in any game situation and are confident in your performance, then your team should follow your lead,” he said.

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