Defenders no match for Cobra
By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
HUDSON -- Basketball is a game of mismatches. Matching a strength against a foe's weakness; a taller playing posting up a shorter one inside; an athletic scorer taking a slower one to the hole. It's all part of the game.
Which is why there are so many parts to Maurice Maisonet's game. The senior point guard possesses an advantage not many playmakers can boast at his position: He is 6-foot-2.
Like a point guard, he can set up the offense and distribute the ball. Like a few others, he can also score. He can shoot anywhere from the 3-point line in.
But he can do more than that on the offensive end. He can create his own shot off the dribble, or he can post up a foe and back his way to the basket.
"Mo is so big, so strong, so quick," Hudson coach Steve Casel said. "He's 6-2, 190-pounds ... other point guards are going to give up size, weight and everything else to him. No matter who they put on him, he's going to take him off the dribble or post them up."
Maisonet's size and speed are big advantages on defense, too, and with a little more work his rebounding could be, too.
But to the Cobras program, which Casel has been rebuilding, Maisonet means even more.
"He's our emotional leader, for sure," Casel said. "He really gives it up most nights for the team."
Like playmaking and scoring, leadership is a role Maisonet -- the three-year starter's nickname is "Mo" -- eagerly assumed long ago.
"I guess I would describe myself as the heart and soul of the team," he said. "As I go, the team goes. I actually like it. I accept the responsibility; it makes me want to play better all the time, that I know that my team is relying on me.
"But we're not a one-headed monster. Without my teammates, I wouldn't have the success that I do have."
But then success has always been rare in this program. In 2000-01, Hudson went 3-24 in Casel's third season.
Last season, the Cobras bucked years of futility to go 13-16 and advance to the district semifinals. Maisonet was a big part of that turnaround, averaging 10.4 points a game and setting school records for assists (143) and steals (110) while averaging 5.1 and 3.9 a game, respectively, in each category.
Now he's averaging more than 20 points a game. "And he's not a two-guard," Casel said. Maisonet's assists are up to 5.5 a game this season.
"He's got the complete package," Casel said. "He's an outside shooter. He's a passer. He can take it off the dribble."
And he's a defender's nightmare. Opposing teams don't want to wear out their point guards defending him.
"A lot of times, they try to put a small forward on me or something like that," Maisonet said. "Which is kind of good because that means one of our big men is going to have a mismatch. It's a mismatch for me, too, because I'm quicker than the guy guarding me."
Hudson shot out of the gate with a 4-2 start, but has struggled to a 6-7 record. Casel expects the Cobras' fortunes to improve with the addition of players who become academically eligible next week.
Maisonet's goal is to make it out of the district tournament, so the losing weighs heavily on him.
"We were riding high in the beginning of the year and everything was going good," he said. "It's kind of hard right now because we are a little thin and I play 32 minutes a game basically. I pace myself and I know that hurts us, but ...
"I'm the type of player, I'm a floor burner. I need to be all over the court all the time. I need to sprint constantly. I'm not a great halfcourt player. I try my hardest. I give it my best, and when I tell coach I need a rest, he gives me one."
Does Maisonet really ask to come off the court?
"I don't," he said.
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