By Dave Ruden
The belief here is that fans and the media make too much of preseason scrimmages, especially in the high profile sports that gain the most attention. You can glean a few insights, but they often get overplayed and are better fodder for discussion more than anything.
That is also true of opening games, especially in sports other than football. Twenty-game seasons are marathons not sprints.
Never more so than this winter with the FCIAC boys basketball season. Behind Bridgeport Central, parity abounds. What appeared a certainty on Wednesday may prove fool’s gold come Friday.
Some of the results on opening night surprised many. Others were predicted by a number of coaches I spoke with.
What follows are some initial impressions. They may change in the course of 48 hours. Welcome to the 2013-14 season.
— The score that turned the most heads: Stamford 62, Norwalk 51. The feeling here is that the Black Knights, who won six games last season, will end up being the most improved team in the conference. They have no stars but a number of good players. Led by Ancel Nevers’ 18 points, Stamford had four players in double figures.
Steve Enoch and Roy Kane Jr. combined for 33 points for Norwalk, which was hurt a year ago by the lack of a reliable playmaker and poor chemistry. Are those problems going to be solved, or have the Bears been overrated? Way too early to tell.
— Darien, believed to have its best team in years, went on the road and was thumped by Wilton, 58-44. The Warriors’ field house, with the great open area behind the basket, makes for one of the league’s better home court advantages. Will the Blue Wave’s Matt Staubi, who finished with 18 points, get support?
Wilton was the surprise team in the league a year ago, and received nary a word of attention during the preseason. Eric Houska, its best player, was saddled with early foul trouble and scored just 8 points. This may be a team again worth keeping an eye on.
— Bassick appeared a little raw in its win over Trinity Catholic, but seem to have a good 1-2 punch in Curhone Baldwin, who finished with 20 points and held Trinity star Tremaine Fraiser to 12, and Carl Brown, who was a force in the paint.
The Crusaders are a work in progress — only Fraiser played a major role a year ago. One area of concern is toughness inside. Will the rebounding be good enough to compete?
— Westhill’s Jeremiah Livingston went into another of the area’s toughest gyms, St. Joseph, and put up 41 points in a key road win. If Central is the prohibitive favorite, it is possible these are the next best teams and the biggest threats to the Hilltoppers. Livingston is both immensely talented and fun to watch.
Jonny Dzurenda, one of the league’s best inside players, had his 27-point effort overshadowed.
— A strong first night for the Cardinals’ CJ Byrd. He put up 27 points in a win over New Canaan. He is a favorite of opposing coaches, or rather one they fear. Alex Wolf, the 6-9 center, added 17 points.
The Cardinals have the potential to be a top four team.
Then again, even with one game in the books, so do a lot of teams.