Tom Piotrowski received a pleasant surprise when he walked into the gym as the new coach of the Atlantic County Institute of Technology boys basketball team.
The Red Hawks were better than people told him.
"It's a very athletic team," Piotrowski said. "It's a very intelligent team. They've been picking up stuff that we've been throwing at them. They're hungry to win. That's been a great way to start for us."
ACIT finished 2-23 in its first varsity season. Piotrowski takes over the Red Hawks after several successful seasons at Atlantic Christian.
"I'm definitely going to try to translate some of the things we did at Atlantic Christian," he said. "(ACIT) is a team that can run the ball and play multiple defenses and go after people. I don't think people expect ACIT to do that, but I feel we have the size, talent and skills."
Will Atkins, a 6-foot-6 junior, and Marcus Watson, 6-5 sophomore, give the Red Hawks a presence inside. Ahmad Shepard-Sloan excelled as a swing man last season.
Piotrowski said the Red Hawks are still an inexperienced, raw team.
"I feel every day confidence is getting better and talent is emerging," he said. "It's going to be a process, but I'm happy with the way things are going."
Contact Michael McGarry:
League: Cape-Atlantic League United Division
Group: South Jersey Group II
Coach: Tom Piotrowski (First season at ACIT)
2012-13 record: 2-23
2013-2014 prediction: Rebuilding – Piotrowski will begin to build the program this season.
Key players: Will Atkins, Jr., 6-5, F; Marcus Watson, So. 6-5, F; T. Rosenborough, Jr., 6-0, G; Isiah Bell, Sr., 5-10, G; Ahmad Shepard-Sloan, Sr., 6-2, G/F; Matt Marmaro, Jr., 6-4, F; Jarius Condry, Jr., 6-0, G.