Tuesday, March 4, 2008

FUTURE BRIGHT FOR BOYS' HOOP TEAMS

The common ground on which the 2007-08 scholastic boys basketball season rests locally is one of inconsistency and promise for the future.

New Britain, fresh from a big victory over eight-seeded CCC North champion Glastonbury, signals that coach Stan Glowiak has the undivided attention of a team that has no seniors and a load of talent featuring the top six players -- Darius Watson, Raheem McKinley, Tebucky Jones, Quashon Moore, Robert Bryant and Robert McKinnon.

First, these six and others like Tarik Hightower need to work together in the off season to learn more about each other's tendencies. Glowiak can surely use a big center and perhaps another guard/forward who can shoot the three.

He also needs to stress to this group that they need to get on that free-throw line and practice, practice, practice. They went a horrific 6-for-19 from the stripe and beat Glastonbury regardless. That soap won't wash Thursday againnst FCIAC monster St. Joseph and will surely be the downfall as the team sets out next year with an eye on league and perhaps a state title.

Another promising story is developing in Wethersfield where juniors P.J. Santavenere and Vic Anderson can approach superstar status next year.

The 6-1 Santavenere was exceptional in the Eagles' first-round loss to Wilby Monday night, scoring 30 points and showing leadership potential. Anderson has a powerful physique attached to his 6-2 frame and a sharp shooting eye, a tough matchup for any team.

Mike Verderame, who has a bright future as a coach, has an athletic swingman in Tyler Murphy and active guards in Adam Williams and Peter Skevas, a point man who is on the small side but makes up for it with scrappiness and enthusiasm. Role players like Bobby Charbonneau, Brandon Dillon and Anthony Bonelli abound.

Another interesting story is developing in Farmington, which will join Wethersfield in a CCC West that will bid adieu to Bloomfield (bound for CCC East).

Spencer Noon looms as one of the best guards in the state. Ryan Murphy, like Anderson and McKinley, is a glass-eater at 6-2. He can also stick the medium-range jumper, and if he improves as much over the off-season as he did during this season, watch out!

Adam Schrecengost, the 6-6 transfer from Pittsburgh, can fill the bill at center if he works at his game in the off-season. He had some great moments early on this year but his playing time diminished as the year went on. Devin Hahn was a 6-5 perimeter player this season. He spots up and shoots very well, but coach Duane Witter needs him to add some muscle and pound the boards more.

Joe Jurkiewicz, who nabbed some of Schrecengost's minutes, emerged as a hustling defensive specialist but must gain some confidence on the offensive side.

Witter will have to replace rugged 6-5 forward Tom Sangeloty and sixth man Matt Brechun. He'll need more depth with the St. Pauls, Rocky Hills and RHAMs being replaced on the schedule by Windsor, Weaver and Wethersfield.

The other local teams, however, face rebuilding chores -- some major and some minor.

Berlin's Anthony Hill, another coach who proved his mettle on the bench this year, loses his two top guns in 6-6 Jeremy Thompson and hustling swingman Pat McCandless. He'll return some serious firepower on the perimeter with Steven Glowiak and Richie Conway.

Most of his support players -- John Guzze, Scott Waskiewicz, Eric O'Neill, Patrick King and Jeff Muzio -- are seniors.

At Newington, Scot Wenzel will look to guard Shane Leupold to lead. Nearly everybody else who takes the floor next December will lack varsity experience. Southington will return guards Pat McLaughlin and Matt Roncaioli, who looms as one of football coach Bill Mella's leaders in the Knights' secondary.

Rocky Hill's Jim McKinnon, yet another blossoming young coach, has some serious rebuilding to do, too. The centerpiece is guard William Davis.

Plainville and Goodwin Tech, both winless this year, are question marks. The Blue Devils' top player was freshman Chase Tarca. Mike Thomas also looms as a key piece in Plainville's renaissance plans.

The Gladiators, their player pool diminished by the emergence of Hartford's magnet schools, needs junior Leyland Loller and freshmen Mahlon Robertson and Dominic Hooks to come back strong and prepared.

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