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Nutley Basketball: Then and Now

How Basketball Has Changed Over Time


Nutley basketball has been around for nearly 100 years, and it had certainly had its ups and downs. The 2017-18 NHS varsity basketball team went 12-11 in the regular season, before losing in the first round in the Section 2, Group 3 tournament. However, during the 1971-72 season, the varsity team was filled with losses against teams in and out of their division. A lot of things can come into play when comparing these two eras for this particular sport. These factors will also tell you how basketball has become more popular over time.


This year, the Nutley High School varsity basketball team was filled with talent. There was a good balance of shooters, like Marty Higgins and Matt Schettino, who were able to knock down three pointers from any given spot on the court, and athletic big men who could do it all, like Eli Acosta and Aidan Ozdemir. Even though the overall structure of the team was solid, the will to learn the fundamentals and be consistent on the defensive end was not there. Mr. Robert Harbison, head coach of the varsity basketball team, was well aware of this due to the change of the game of basketball.


“Basketball has changed in a lot of ways,” says Coach Harbison. “The three-point shot has changed strategies.  It's a faster game. Athleticism has begun to take over technique. Shooting has become much more important than playing defense. Individual offense has taken over team offense. Players dribble more, pass less. Players are more concerned with how they 'look' when they play, as opposed to how effective of a player they are.”


This style of play is largely due to the culture of basketball and how it is played on the professional level. For example, NBA all star Stephen Curry, who has won the most valuable player award twice in the last four years, has the ability to shoot anywhere as soon as he crosses the half court line. This shooting ability has led him to numerous awards and recognitions despite his small stature. This ability has also influenced several young basketball players to become shooters in their own right.


As of the 70s, basketball was not nearly as popular as it is today. The NHS varsity basketball team was also not very good in this particular time period either. The record of the varsity team was 3-17. In the article, writer Peter Ruccione, had a good idea of why the team had struggled throughout the season.“The 71-72 basketball games were not in themselves the scenes of great team encouragement,” says Coach Harbison.


The perception of basketball has changed over time in the community and in the country. Overall, the change of popularity for this sport for 100 years has been extraordinary.