The basketball season perhaps more than any other takes the longest to develop a rhythm. There are a few non-league games, a week of conference play followed by holiday tournaments.
It is difficult for coaches to get their teams into a routine. That starts after the calendar year with the return of league play. The season is already a quarter of the way through, but the five schools that are winless in the FCIAC are only in a slight hole as play resumes tomorrow night.
So far this is both a down and up year for the league. Down in that there are few game-changing players. The overall individual talent level has not yet rebounded.
On the other hand, as anticipated there so far remains less of a gap between the top and bottom of the league. Last year nine schools separated themselves almost immediately. So far it is hard to find a team that falls into the “easy win” category.
One big change is the schedule. Because of the shortage of officials (and a real shortage of very good ones), the FCIAC and the SWC have essentially agreed to share them.
Thus, the FCIAC will play games on Monday and Thursday nights for the first half of the season while the SWC goes Tuesday-Friday. The leagues will switch the nights they play at midseason.
For now, here is a look at teams that seem to be trending upward and downward from what was expected in the preseason.
Trumbull. Why do we have the school many had as the favorite a month ago moving upward? Based on the body of work so far, I think it is quite possible the gap between the Eagles (5-0) and the rest of the league could be huge.
In Timmond Williams they have one of the few players capable of taking over a game. Chris Brown is the perfect complement, creating, finishing and rebounding.
The Eagles are tough on the boards, pass well and play defense. Worst of all for opponents, a reluctant coach Buddy Bray has removed the training wheels, and they are now playing up-tempo.
Trumbull traditionally has a strong homecourt advantage. Put it all together and right now it is hard to find another team with so many weapons better built for the long haul.
Ridgefield. The Tigers’ all-guard attack has worked well during a 4-1 start. James St. Pierre is another of the few go-to players and he has picked up where he left off last year. Ridgefield would seem the perfect team to use your box-and-one against, but it moves the ball quickly and has a number of players who can hit from long range. The Tigers can score in bunches.
Wilton. Coach Joel Geriak said in the preseason he liked the composition of the Warriors (4-1), who have less experience than in recent years. That hasn’t made a difference so far. They went 2-1 during a holiday trip to Florida and have an 18-point win at New Canaan. Based on their competition it is hard to get a read on the team, but it is off to a good start.
New Canaan, Greenwich. Our two favorite sleepers are off to a combined 7-2 start. The Rams (4-1) also own a 21-point win over the Cardinals (3-1). Some quality wins are needed — how will the Rams fare tomorrow in Danbury? Right now the start of the season has been about breeding interest and confidence, and both teams have succeeded on those fronts.
Stamford. The Black Knights were a top three pick by many, and they may end up there, but holes have been exploited in a 2-3 start.
The defense was a liability in losses to Trumbull and Ridgefield, by a combined 39 points. With a perimeter-oriented team, scoring is a struggle when the Black Knights are not hitting from the outside or getting out in transition.
Stamford hits a stretch now where it could find a groove and run off a bunch of wins.
Trinity Catholic. This is a case where the Crusaders have been more a victim of their past. The Crusaders are always going to get the benefit of the doubt and be picked high because of their reputation.
This year’s team, however, is young. There is a lot of potential but it is going to take time for this group to mature. And the Crusaders (1-3) have a 6-7 sophomore transfer from Dallas who will be eligible tomorrow against Staples. You would rather play Trinity now than in a couple of weeks.
Keep An Eye On
Danbury turned some eyes when it scored just 39 points in a loss to Fairfield Ludlowe in the first league game. The Falcons have been playing good teams close and keeping scores low, but the Hatters (3-2) should be the ones controlling the pace. … Fairfield Warde is off to a 3-1 start and won the town holiday tournament by holding Notre Dame-Fairfield and Ludlowe to 37 points each. … One team off to a better than expected start is St. Joseph. The Cadets are 3-1. We will know more soon with a difficult stretch of games.
No. 1 Trumbull (5-0, 2-0) vs. No. 8 Greenwich (3-1, 1-1)
No. 2 Ridgefield (4-1, 2-0) vs. No. 7 St. Joseph (3-1, 2-0)
No. 3 Danbury (3-2, 1-1) vs. No. 6 New Canaan (4-1, 1-1)
No. 4 Wilton (4-1, 1-0) vs. No. 5 Fairfield Warde (3-1, 1-0)