I am a sports and music fanatic from Farmington, CT, currently attending Saint Joseph's University in Connecticut. I am mainly interested in College Basketball, CIAC High School Basketball, and Major League Baseball, though I follow just about all sports closely.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Northwest vs. Avon- Game Notes

I just got back from watching my first high school game of the season, getting my first glance at Kuran Iverson as his Northwest Catholic Indians win in Avon, by about 15.

It was obvious from the get-go that Northwest was just incredibly more athletic than Avon, but they seemed to a bunch of mistakes, including dumb turnovers and defensive lapses, that kept Avon in the game for a while. In the end, Julian Harris took the game into his own hand and gave Northwest the victory.

Kuran Iverson really is a freak of nature on the court...but he is a freshman and showed it tonight. He must have had 5-6 turnovers, mainly due to some out of control passes (including two that were thrown off the backboard). He also must've been about 1-6 from 3 pt. range, and many of his shots did not even look close. He did have one nice throwdown on a dish from Tyler Huffman in the 4th quarter, and had a few good blocks, but all in all he did not have a very strong game.

Julian Harris is definately among the top players in the conference, if not the state, and I'm suprised he's not getting many looks from d-1 schools. He is extremely athletic, and at 6'5" he can flat out dominate against teams like Avon. His outside shot is decent, but sometimes he tends to hang out outside the three point line too much, where he could be scoring at will inside. He finished with about 21 points tonight, including two dunks. He's got a good passion for the game; I'm a big fan of his.

I really was impressed with Northwest's backcourt of Jordan Lewis and Tyler Huffman as well. Lewis is super quick and attacks the basket well, with a good mid-range game. He's a bit undersized for the next level, but is a very solid player for the Indians, and has a good chance to be all-conference again. Huffman suprised me, as he looks about 10 years old on the court with his small 5'8" frame. But he rarely makes a mistake on the court and has a very smooth jump shot. Despite his looks, he shows a great deal of maturity on the court, and should be a very solid sidekick for Iverson the next three years.

J.C. Carr is also a solid player for Northwest, though he is overshadowed by Iverson and Harris, because he doesn't quite display the athleticism that they have. Northwest's biggest problem may be their lack of depth. Behind those starting five, the Indians are fairly weak, as BC-Baseball commit Tom Bourdon, sophomore Zach Lewis, and Taylor Ramos are the only others that got minutes. Bourdon is nothing more than an athlete on the court who plays good "D", but can't be relied on for offence. Lewis is going to be good but is still young, and Ramos is nothing more than a solid role player. This gives the starters more leeway to make stupid mistakes like some of them did today, as coach Mirabello doesn't have much competition on the bench.

As for Avon, their two Senior guards really impressed me tonight. I forget their names, but they were #4 and #5, and both were very poised, good shooters, and limited mistakes. They were able to work the ball around the aggresive NWC zone, and gave their shooters the open shots needed to stay in the game. I expect Avon to contend for a conference championship in the weak NCCC (made even weaker with the departure of Tolland)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

College Basketball: Week of 12/28

I've been doing a weekly top 30 for college basketball in my opinion, every week.

Here it is this week.

1. Kansas
2. Texas
3. Kentucky
4. Purdue
5. Syracuse
6. West Virginia
7. Duke
8. Villanova
9. North Carolina
10. Kansas State
11. Connecticut
12. Michigan State
13. Washington
14. Clemson
15. Tennessee
16. Georgetown
17. Mississippi State
18. Mississippi
19. Florida State
20. New Mexico
21. Ohio State
22. Northwestern
23. Wisconsin
24. Texas Tech
25. Alabama-Birmingham
26. Georgia Tech
27. Dayton
28. Temple
29. Oklahoma State
30. Brigham Young

Dropped Out: Florida, Texas A&M, UNLV, Missouri State

I really don't understand all the Gonzaga hype. They lost by 35 to Duke...they really shouldn't be in the Top 25 every week.

Games to Watch this Week

#5 Syracuse at Seton Hall- Seton Hall proved to be able to hang with the best teams in the Big East Saturday against West Virginia. Look for the Orange to be tested here.

#24 Texas Tech at #20 New Mexico- The Lobos look to knock off another quality team from a major conference in order to prove the Oral Roberts loss was a fluke.

#11 Connecticut at Cincinnati- The Bearcats have been struggling lately, but have the tools to possibly knock off the inconsistent Huskies.

St. John's at #16 Georgetown- St. John's is better than they have been lately, and Georgetown is looking to prove their critics wrong from the Old Dominion loss with a big conference win here.

#21 Ohio State at #23 Wisconsin- Other than they're overtime loss to Green Bay, Wisconsin has looked like one of the best teams in the Big 10. I expect them to upset the Evan Turner-less Buckeyes at home on New Years Eve.

#6 West Virginia at #4 Purdue- This is the game of the week by a long shot. It matches two of the final six unbeatens in a huge out of conference matchup. Both teams are definate final four contenders and beyond.

#27 Dayton at #20 New Mexico- Two of the best teams in the country from non-power conferences will square off on New Year's Day.

#1 Kansas at #28 Temple- Temple's already knocked off Villanova on their home court. Could they do the same with the #1 team in the country?

Lousiville at #3 Kentucky- Calipari/Pitino in-state rivalry has been anticipated since Calipari was hired at Kentucky. The two coaches share one of the strangest relationships in sports, and their careers have been going in opposite directions this year. Anything can happen in a rivalry like this, so Kentucky's going to need to stay focused in order to stay unbeaten.

#12 Michigan State at #22 Northwestern- Northwestern is the only team from a power conference to never have made it to a NCAA tournament. That should change this year and upsetting the Spartans would help a lot.

Notre Dame at #11 Connecticut- Just because I'll be there. Any Big East game is a good one.

#14 Clemson at #7 Duke- Two of the best teams in the conference square off in the weekly Sunday Night ACC game.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Kuran Iverson

Kuran Iverson's a name I'd mentioned a few times before, and am very intrigued by. Yesterday the 6'8" freshman, who plays mostly out on the perimeter, dropped 20 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks, in a heartbreaking loss to a very strong Middletown team.

From what I hear, he still needs a little fine tuning on his game, but he's a freshman varsity starter and that's to be expected. But anytime a Freshman comes in at 6'8", has ball-handling skills of a guard, outside shooting range, and athleticism off the charts, some heads are going to be turned.

I'd suggest seeing this kid play now, because although it would be a bummer for the CIAC, who knows if he'll stay a Northwest Catholic much longer. But when you do see him, you may just be seeing a future NBA prospect in the making.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Opening Night in HS Hoops

From what I've heard so far it was an incredibly exciting opening night in the area for basketball.

First of all, the news has come in that Tyler Olander, the 6'8" forward who had recently transferred to Massachusetts' Worcester Academy, has re-enrolled at his former school, E.O. Smith where he will play for the basketball season this year. He was supposed to repeat his junior year at Worcester, but he will probably only have one more year of eligiblity here in the CIAC, which is interesting because he had been getting serious interest from big-time division 1 schools as a member of the class of 2011. Expect him to most likely take a PG year in order to slow down his recruiting interest this year, but with him back Smith becomes a contender, at least in the relatively weak CCC East.

In what was expected to be a battle between two of the top teams not only in the CCC, but also in the state, New Britain held on to defeat a depleted defending state champion Bulkeley Bulldogs team 54-53. Bulkeley was without two of their better players, in Senior Deshawn Hamlet, and Junior Chaz Arnold, who were both benched for diciplinary/academic reasons. New Haven bound Darius Watson had 15, and Sacred Heart bound Steve Glowiak had 13 for the Golden Hurricanes. Supposedly both teams looked a little rusty, but if Bulkeley gets Hamlet and Arnold back both could be contenders for both a conference and state title.

At my alma mater, Farmington High School, Berlin's Junior Point Guard Richie Conway drained a half-court heave at the buzzer to defeat my Indians. Despite the tough loss to their former NWC rivals, Farmington, who lost four starters starters from last year, including their top three scorers, should be encouraged by their defensive performance, and should finish in the middle of the pack in the CCC West.

Plainville's undefeated; a statement that would shock anyone based on their play the last few years; beating Conard 49-45. Sure Conard isn't supposed to be very good this year, but it's a good start for a Plainville team that should be improved this year.

In my opinion, the biggest game of the night was Windsor/Bloomfield. Not only an intense rivalry between two north-of-Hartford suburbs, both teams were in the state championship last year and expect to contend for one again this year. Bloomfield emerged from the pack, planting themselves possibly as the favorites in the whole CCC, winning 87-75 in Windsor's home gym. Windsor had lost six players to college basketball, including three starters, but still returned their leading scorer in Tyrus Weaver, as well as Ryan Delaire, Ishamel Kalilou and strong Weaver transfers Maurice Eastwood AND Mike Fraylon. Not only that, but Rashad Moore, Bloomfield's star shooting guard, and leading scorer from last year, did not play due to a team suspension. Denzel Jones, the teams tank at PF, was only approximately 90% from a knee injury occurred at a football game. Senior's Shomari Cowan and Ashar Whittingham led the way for Bloomfield with their two go two men not at 100%, both scoring 17 points. Weaver had 21 for Windsor, while Jones still finished with 14 for Bloomfield.

East Hartford, who I think is the best team in the conference (and only behind Sacred Heart and Hillhouse in the state), was not too impressive, only beating Tolland 65-51.

East Catholic, who should also be very good, only beat Smith by four, 49-45. Not sure if Olander played in this one.

RHAM looked impressive in a 86-78 victory over South Windsor, while Glastonbury destroyed a much weakened Rockville team 75-51, in a battle of east of the river teams who lost basically their entire team from the year before.

Still excited to see how Kuran Iverson is, I plan on trying to catch a few NWC games during break. They open up tomorrow night against Middletown in the always epic Doc Hurley Classic. Some other big games in the DHC this year include New London vs. East Hartford and Bulkeley vs. Bloomfield, both on Saturday. Will be interesting to see if both Bulkeley and Bloomfield are still without their best players because of their suspensions.

Re-vamped CCC Rankings
1. East Hartford
2. Bloomfield
3. Bulkeley-Hartford
4. Northwest Catholic-West Hartford
5. New Britain
6. Windsor
7. East Catholic-Manchester
8. Middletown
9. Platt-Meriden
10. Berlin

Sunday, September 27, 2009

How good is the CCC really going to be next year?

I'm away in Philadelphia for the next four years, stationed in Sourin Hall at Saint Joseph's University, ready to cheer on my Hawks starting November 13th at Hagan Arena in our opener against Drexel. But, even while I'm in one of the hotbeds for college (and even High School for that matter) basketball I wish I could spend more time back home in Connecticut for the High School basketball scene there. With the Central Connecticut Conference expanding to 32 high school programs next year, the action in the Greater Hartford Area should be better than ever. The league should feature multiple state championship contenders, and should dominate the state polls this year.

The conference was one of the best in the state last year, and though it did lose a good amount of talent (Adrian Satchell, Danny Lawhorn, Steven Samuels, Darryl McCoy, Tyler Olander etc.), a core neucleus of many of the league's powerhouses remain. The addition of powerhouses Northwest Catholic, East Catholic, and Middletown helps just that much more. Here are some of the teams that should contend to be among the league, and states, best this coming year.

CCC North
East Hartford (last year, 18-8, 9-3):
The Hornets really came on strong at the end of last season, advancing all the way to the CCC Championship before losing a respectable game to Windsor. But making it more impressive, is that four of their starters, including their three leading scorers and all-conference players, will be returning for this year. East Hartford will be led by Senior forward Jakarri McCallop, a 6-5 do-it-all type player who may be looking at division one offers, especially after a possible year at prep school. McCallop averaged 18.2 points last year as a Junior, being able to score in so many ways. He will be helped greatly this year by his other all-conference teammates, Junior guard Anthony Jernigan and Senior G/F Jevon Williams, who both averaged over 10 PPG last year. Jernigan has been considered one of the state's top 5 prospects in the class of 2011 and should be looking at D1 offers, because of his blinding speed and superb ball-handling ability. Also returning for the Hornets are Senior G Alex Cruz, Senior G Devin Mitchell, and Senior F Tim Washington, all of which contributed in the team's strong 08-09 campaign. Losing post-precence David Dudley may hurt the Hornets a bit, but they just have too much talent returning to deny them as one of the state's powerhouses this year.

East Catholic (last year, 12-11, 11-7)
It wasn't a very typical season for the powerhouse East Catholic Eagles in '08-09, but at times they proved they could compete with anyone. Losing absolutely no contributers from last year's squad, the Eagles should have enough talent to put them back at the top of the state rankings. The Junior duo of G Jerome Harris and F Rohan Brown will return for their second year together after Brown transferred from Public the year before. Both youngsters were all-conference performers the year before, and are considered possible D1 prospects in the future. Also along for the ride will be 6'6" C B.J. Carderelli, who was also all-conference last year as a Junior. Role-players G/F Cordell Snow, F Kevin Copeland, F Shawn Egan, G Justin Nunez, and G James Rhodes all return for their Senior season as well. Look for the inexperience of last year's Eagles to disappear, and for this team to be among the best in the conference.

Windsor (last year, 26-1, 10-0, LL State Champion)
Whenever you graduate six players to play college basketball, you know you probably won't be as good next year, especially if you're just an average-sized Connecticut public school. Adrian Satchel (UMBC), Steve Samuels (St. Peter's), Doug Soutar (Concordia), Kingsley Boothe and Attah Agyemang (ECSU), and Bilali Kalilou (Emerson), are all off to school, but Windsor is such a strong program and again should be one of the better teams in the conference. In fact, their leading scorer from last year, Senior G Tyrus Weaver (16.2 PPG), will be returning, as well as athletic freak and dunk extrordinairre Senior F/C Ryan Delaire (8.1 PPG). Former role-playing Seniors Ishmael Kalilou and Brandon Jones look to flourish in their new roles, while Senior G Brendan Allen will look better then ever coming off of a tough season ending ankle injury last January. I've also heard good things about Sophomore PG Garey Allen, and with Samuels, Soutar and Agyemang gone, it is possible he could get some quality minutes this year. Windsor should contend for a conference and state championship once again, even with all of the losses.

Other Contenders:
Weaver (last year 10-12, 6-4):
Return a very strong core in Junior F's Mike Fraylon and Maurice Eastwood, will have to recover from loss of all-conference performer Mike Anderson.
South Windsor (last year 8-13, 3-7): Spencer Calling returns as one of the conference's best true big men.

Manchester, Glastonbury and Wethersfield should struggle in this division.

CCC West

Northwest Catholic (last year 21-5, 15-3):

Northwest will enter the CCC with one of the strongest team's it's had in a while, a team that should have the Indians fans hoping for a state championship in 2010. Senior F Julian Harris (19.5 PPG in 2009), should be among the league's most dominant scoring presences, while Senior PG Jordan Lewis, should be among the league's best distributers. The loss of G/F Uzoma Orchigwa and his 16 PPG will be a challenge to recover from, but players like F/C Theo Agnew and J.C. Carr should improve enough to help in that category. Three-sport superstar Tom Bourdon has been a rock for the team the past two seasons as well. The one wild-card going into the season for Northwest is the possible addition of 6'8" freshman sensation Kuran Iverson. Iverson, possibly the next Drummond, decided to enroll at his hometown Northwest rather than prestigious prep schools like Oak Hill and Pinecrest, and should make an immediate impact for the Indians. Another young talent, sophomore guard Tyler Huffman looks poised for a breakout season as well. With coach John Mirabello running the show, NWC should have enough talent to make a deep run in both the CCC and State tournaments.

New Britain (last year 20-4, 11-1)
The Golden Hurricanes are another team that will definately be listed among the state's best, as they return their top two scorers from their 20 win season in 2009. Senior G Steven Glowiak, son of coach Stan Glowiak, will return as one of the state's best long-distance shooters, and has been gathering interest from D1 and D2 schools such as Sacred Heart, New Hampshire, Bryant and Bentley. 6'5" Senior F Darius Watson, though, returns as the team's best player and leading scorer at 18.8 PPG in 2009. Watson, similar to East Hartford's McCallop, is a player who can score both from the inside and outside and will be among the conference's leaders in scoring this year. UCONN football commit Tebucky Jones Jr. (7.6 PPG) and his football teammate Tarik Hightower (4.8 PPG) will also be major contributers as well to this perrenial powerhouse.

Other Contenders:
All of the other 6 teams in this division should struggle this year. Newington returns Senior F's Jimmy Hepple and Nick Lebron, and should be #3 in this division, but nowhere near NBHS or NWC. Conard's Josh Levitan is poised for a big season, and may help lead. Conard a .500 record. Farmington, Hall, Simsbury, and Southington should all struggle.

CCC South:

Bulkeley (last year 16-10, 8-2 L State Champion)
The Bulkeley Bulldogs will return most of their core nucleus from last year's cinderella championship run. The question will be, can they play as well as they did last March with enough consistency to give them a chance at another championship this year. One key to their season will be Senior 6'3" F Deshawn Hamlet (17.8 PPG), who dominated last year in the CCC Tournament. Senior G Brandon Jones (15.6 PPG) will provide strength from beyond the three-point line with his shooting ability, while Senior G Bomani Jones (5.2 PPG) will contribute with his athleticism. The key player in Bulkeley's run this year, though, will be Junior big-man Chaz Arnold (8.8 PPG) with 20 point games in the tournament against Bassick-Bridgeport and Northwest Catholic. If Arnold can break out into a star, this team will be among the best in the state.

Middletown (last year 19-4, 16-2)
Middletown enters it's first year in the CCC coming off one of the team's best years in recent history, finishing 16-2 in the usually strong Northwest Conference. Though they will lose G/F P.J. Santavenere (12.7 PPG), and G/F Rishawn Brown (13.6 PPG), the team has enough speed and athleticism to compete again. Senior PG Taeshawn Jackson should lead the way for the Blue Dragons, coming off an all-conference campaign last year in which he averaged 13.8 PPG. Junior G Steven Santavenere, a mid-season transfer from East Catholic, will also prove to be a huge factor in the success of this team. Senior C Mike Pelligrini (8.5 PPG), Senior F/C Matt Monahan (5.4 PPG) and Senior F/G Tevin Dempsey (3.0 PPG) will also return as contributers. While this team loses a lot of talent, there is always so much depth there in Middletown that it should be able to recover quite easily.

Other Contenders:
Berlin (last year 11-11, 9-8):
Return Junior G/F Max DeLorenzo (18.5 PPG), as well as Junior G Richie Conway (13.9 PPG) from solid 2009 campaign.
Maloney (last year 7-13, 5-5): Last year's rebuilding effort has ended and will return stronger with Junior sharpshooter Ryan Belote (11.9 PPG) and Senior slasher Dell Jackson (10.0 PPG) leading the way.
Bristol Eastern (last year 14-8, 7-3): Superstar Cody Bayne has graduated, but Senior G's Tylon Holmes (13.3 PPG) and Xavier Wade (7.8 PPG) will be back.

Platt, Bristol Central, and Plainville should be in the bottom of this league.

CCC East

Bloomfield (last year 21-4, 18-3):
Will dominate this division and definately contend for a state championship. Return two of the conference's best players, and leaders in the team's state championship run in 2008, in F Denzel Jones (12.8 PPG) and G Rashad Moore (17.8 PPG). Jones has been reported to be looking at Central Connecticut to play both football and basketball. Sophomore G Ryan Sutherland stepped up bigtime last year as a freshman, averaging 8.1 PPG, while Veteran Senior G Shomari Cowan will continue to anchor the backcourt. Also returning include Senior G/F Ashar Whittingham and Senior F/C Stanley Ferguson, among many others for this deep squad. Should go undefeated against the otherwise weak CCC East.

Other Contenders:
Hartford Public (last year 18-6, 8-2):
It may take a while to recover from losing C Darryl McCoy and G Arshad Jackson to graduation, and D1 bound PG Danny Lawhorn to South Kent Prep. But the Pub should bring back G Frederick Wright and G Derrick Guy, and will have enough talent to win some games in the weak CCC East.
RHAM (last year 6-14, 3-13): Graduate sharpshooter Mick Kelly, but keep Ethan Sperry. Still not enough athleticism to win very many games.
Rockville (last year 21-5, 7-3): Won 20 games last year, they can't drop off too far can they?

Tolland, Fermi, EO Smith, and Rocky Hill should struggle in the CCC this year.

All in all, although there are some very weak teams in the conference this year, there are about 10 teams that can compete with anyone in the state. There is so much talent spread across this 32 team conference, that games will be more wild than others. Here are the top 10 teams in the conference, IMO:

1. East Hartford
2. Northwest Catholic
3. Bloomfield
4. New Britain
5. East Catholic
6. Bulkeley
7. Windsor
8. Middletown
9. Berlin
10. Weaver

1st Team All Conference:
G: Anthony Jernigan, East Hartford
G: Tyrus Weaver, Windsor
F: Julian Harris, Northwest Catholic
F: Darius Watson, New Britain
F: Jakarri McCallop, East Hartford

2nd Team All-Conference:
G: Rashad Moore, Bloomfield
G: Steven Glowiak, New Britain
G: Jerome Harris, East Catholic
F: Denzel Jones, Bloomfield
F: Deshawn Hamlet, Bulkeley

3rd Team All-Conference:
G: Jevon Williams: East Hartford
G: Jordan Lewis, Northwest Catholic
G: Taeshawn Jackson, Middletown
F: Rohan Brown, East Catholic
F: Ryan Delaire, Windsor

Player of The Year: Jakarri McCallop, East Hartford