NEW BRITAIN - When New Britain took the floor against the Connecticut Heat on Saturday afternoon in the Nutmeg Games 11th grade girls basketball tournament, the coach on the sidelines was a familiar face - Inanna Rice.
The Mitchell College bound player and former Hurricanes was back on the sidelines coaching up some of the girls she played with over the past year.
“We’re a family,” Rice said. “I saw these girls come in as babies and they’re now going through what I went through so it’s fun. I like to enjoy their presence. I know how everyone plays. We’re all familiar with each other so I want to do whatever it takes to get them to the level I’m now going to. I want to see everyone succeed. I want as much as them as possible to go to college ball or if they want to do something else just be successful.”
Running the point for New Britain was an incoming junior Saniya Pellegrini, who’s just one of the New Britain players who has looked up to Rice.
With the summer to help out her former teammates Rice is doing everything she can to take advantage of it.
“Even though I’m going to college ball that doesn’t really mean anything. It’s the way you got there, so we push each other,” Rice said. “Sometimes we go to the park and I see what they’re doing. We’ll get a few shots knocked down or if we’re over here [at New Britain High School] before games we all shoot. Whenever we have free time we work on our game.”
In Saturday’s game, Pellegrini wasn’t flashy and didn’t score the ball often with four points in the loss but she set her teammates up throughout the game.
“I have great court vision,” Pellegrini said. “I know how to get my players into the position they need to be rather than trying to force something. That’s mainly my strong side. I’m not always looking to be a scoring guard. I’m more about getting my team set up.”
Being a floor general for the Hurricanes this season is something Pellegrini is looking to accomplish.
“This year I’m trying to be a leader,” Pellegrini said. “Even though I’m not really an upperclassman, I’m just trying to set an example for our team because most of our seniors are gone now.”
New Britain is coming off a 5-15 season this past winter and Pellegrini will hope to be part of the turnaround this year.
“We need to be committed as a team because if we’re not all committed then we’re not going to work as a team,” Pellegrini said. “I think having [Inanna] on the sidelines with us is only going to help. She did everything for the team.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org