2017-18 Boys Basketball Preview
FAIRFIELD - Each year, Warde boys’ basketball coach Ryan Swaller puts together a list of goals that he like to see his team accomplish. This year, he has only three: make states, win the FCIAC and defend the Holiday Tournament Championship.
But with just three players with extended varsity experience returning, achieving those goals might be easier said than done.
“We will continue to work toward our three goals,” Swaller wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “We return just three varsity players, but we have six seniors who have all been four-year players, and that will help with that lack of varsity experience as they know and understand what it takes to accomplish those goals.”
The three returning players with varsity experience are: 6-foot-3 guard Sean Conway, who was a first-team All-FCIAC selection last season as a junior, averaging 18 points a game; 6-3 forward Malcolm Brune, who averaged 10 points and eight rebounds last season and 6-4 forward Matt Becker, who Swaller is expecting to see much more production out of this season as a senior.
In addition, Swaller returns seven players that all saw some time at the varsity level last season, including Dan Fitzpatrick (“strong mid-range jumper”), Ethan Wolf (“physical rebounder and defender”), Chris Bogan (“solid rebounder”), Jeff Seganos “(tough point guard, sees the floor well”), Matt Houghton (“combo guard, greatly improved”) and Nick Crescione (“can shoot the 3 and defend”).
“Dan is ready to be a nightly contributor both offensively and defensively as a shooting guard,” Swaller wrote. “Ethan Wolf has gotten much stronger and will be our leading rebounder most nights. Chris Bogan is very athletic and gets to the rim well.”
Last season the Mustangs went 16-7, a season that was filled with inner turmoil as two players left the team during the season. Warde lost in the FCIAC tournament quarterfinals and reached the second round of the Class LL tournament, losing to NFA 56-53.
“Our keys to success this season are defense, controlling the tempo of the game and having players develop quickly,” Swaller wrote. “How quickly can these underclassmen be ready to contribute on a nightly basis at the varsity level?”
Coach John Dailey lost six seniors from last season’s 9-12 squad, including 6-foot-9 center Frank Lumaj, and the big (pardon the pun) question is: who’s going to fill those holes?
“We will be relying heavily on guys with very little varsity basketball experience,” Dailey wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “However, we do have a mix of seniors and underclassmen who are ready to step in and compete on a nightly basis.”
Among those are captains Ty Stapleton, Jack Began, Cooper Nielsen, Christian Peterson and Justin Schiller. Stapleton started all 21 games last season and averaged nine points a game.
Dailey is also going to make good use out of 6-foot-4 junior transfer Jadyn Tabois, who “can score in a variety of ways,” according to the coach.
“James Bourque (sophomore) and Nielsen will work together in the backcourt while Peterson and Jeff Meyers will provide depth in the frontcourt,” Dailey wrote. “Ty is one of the best shooters in the FCIAC and we are expecting a big year out of him.”
The Falcons went 8-8 in FCIAC play last season lost to Weaver in the opening round of the Class LL tournament.
“This team is going to be tough,” Dailey wrote. “They really get after it and want to win. They’ve been watching teams before them at Ludlowe have some success and they want a piece of that as well. We have a lot of work to do and our early season schedule is one of the toughest in the state but I’m confident these guys will come together and win some games.”
Coach Leo Redgate is dealing with the graduation loss of four experienced starters, Partick Harding, Robert Haskins, Phil Vlandis and Mitch Savoca - John Kelly also left the program -- but the cupboard isn’t bare as several players with some varsity experience return, including Sean O’Leary, Brendan Wisniewski and Anthony Mastroni.
Brian Noone is the lone returning starter from last season’s squad.
“We are going to have to have to focus on defending,” Redgate wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “We’re young and inexperienced. It’s going to be trial by fire.”
The Jesuits struggled throughout the regular season, going 10-10 but won two games in the SCC tournament, making the semifinals and also two twice in the Class LL tournament, reaching the quarterfinals, ending at 14-12.
“We need to play hard-nosed Fairfield Prep defense to have a chance, given our extremely tough schedule,” Redgate wrote. “I’m excited to teach and motivate this young group.”
Last season, the Lancers blew through the Class L tournament before losing in the championship game to Sacred Heart.
This time, ND wants to go all the way.
And with a ton of returning players for coach Chris Watts, the thought is: why not?
Notre Dame returns starting forwards Nori Davis (first-team All-SWC) and Josh Reaves, guard Tyler Bourne (First-team All-SWC) and half-dozen other players with loads of varsity experience: Damion Medwinter, who Watts said, “is emerging as a huge force,” Woodley Monnexant, Charles Clemons, Stone Appleberg, Rodney Medor, Xavier Giddons and Phillip Conner, from a squad that went 25-3 last season and won the SWC postseason tournament.
“The (SWC) is going to be very competitive,” Watts wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “On any given night, any team can be successful.”
The Lancers rolled to an 18-2 regular season record, thanks to an up-tempo offense that beat opponents up and down the court, averaging nearly 70 points (69.35) a game. Look for more of the same this season.