Breaking down Westhill vs. Fairfield Prep in the Class LL final
Fairfield Ludlowe boys basketball coach John Dailey has seen Fairfield Prep and Westhill, the two finalists in the Class LL boys basketball game, up close and personal this season having played both during the regular season before losing to Fairfield Prep in the state quarterfinals.
Dailey says figuring out what each team is doing is not the problem, it is stopping it that keeps coaches like him up at night and the biggest reason each has reached the pinnacle of the sport in Connecticut.
So, when No. 1 Fairfield Prep and No. 2 Westhill meet at Mohegan Sun Saturday in the Class LL Championship at 8:15 here is what to look for according to Dailey:
Fairfield Prep offense
"The first thing you need to try and stop is the dribble penetration. They have three of the best guards in the state (Ryan Foley, Thomas Nolan and Richard Kelly) and they can all dribble and score at the rim. They can all also hit 3s on kickouts off the penetration and that is where they are most dangerous. They are a very tough matchup man-to-man, but I think you have to attack them and make them uncomfortable.
Prep is the better outside shooting team with those three pure shooters and have more weapons offensively than Westhill. To win this game Prep has to hit their outside shots.
Prep's guards are scary on offense because they come at you so many ways."
"First of all Jeremiah (Livingston) is the best guard in the area and stopping him is much easier said than done. I don't think he can be contained in straight man-to-man.
Westhill will have to take quality shots and be patient in the half court.
If Westhill gets out in transition they will kill you and it is almost like any bad shot you take is like a turnover because they can turn that bad shot into a transition basket before you know it.
CJ (Donaldson) and Jeremiah are great passers and get everyone else involved. I think Tyrell Alexander is a tremendous player and could be the big difference in this game because he is a relentless rebounder and can pop out and shoot that mid-range jumper."
Fairfield Prep defense
"They mostly play man-to-man but will go to a 1-2-2 in the half court also. They like to trap the corners in that zone and then the top guys pop out trying to steal the pass back to the wing.
They like to press sometimes but nobody is pressing Westhill with any sustained success because their two guards are the best in the FCIAC.
Prep likes to play foul line to foul line and the guys in the back are ready to step in and stop the ball if the ballhandler gets past the guards' defense.
The key on defense will be if (Patrick) Harding and (Joseph) DiGennaro can stay out of foul trouble. If they get in foul trouble, Prep is not as deep at those positions as they are in the back court."
"Westhill's defense gets overlooked, but when they are playing defense really well, nobody beats them.
They play man-to-man and then go to a 2-3 and a 2-3 matchup which they disguise very well by showing different looks with the guards. They extend the matchup and it almost looks like a man-to-man and it is really hard to pick up on what exactly they are doing.
Sometimes they play straight, sometimes they jump the ball, sometimes they trap. It really takes you out of what you want to do on offense.
Jeremiah and CJ are so fast and pressure so well in the half court it makes guards panic and creates turnovers which leads to transition baskets.
They can make the game so fast sometimes that you are not even worried what defense they are in, you are just trying to hang onto the ball."
"Prep has more weapons and is the better shooting team but Westhill has Jeremiah and he makes a big difference.
This game for me is a total pick em' but I think it may be the first team to 80 wins. It is going to be up and down. Westhill is more athletic but Prep is a better shooting team.
Prep has to make shots from the perimeter and Westhill needs someone else to step up and certainly has players like CJ and Tyrell Alexander who can do that."