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Midseason Report: It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world

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St. Joseph, which right now has to be considered an ever-so-slight favorite if you are going to pick one team to beat, has a 21-point loss to Wilton on its resume.

Bassick, the two-time defending champion, has lost to unheralded New Canaan. Well, unheralded as of a month ago; if the season ended right now the Rams would be the No. 8 seed in the conference playoffs.

Westhill, a team nobody mentioned in the preseason, is the only unbeaten team in league play.

Darien, the only winless team in conference play, has a non-league win over Greenwich, which went to double overtime before losing to Trinity Catholic, which was the last remaining unbeaten team until seven days ago, which….

You get the picture. That is life in the FCIAC at the midseason pole. The word parity was not bandied about during the preseason for nothing. The top of the league has taken a step or two back to the pack, there are fewer really bad teams and, as the aforementioned affirms, there is a far deeper middle class than at any time in recent memory.

Right now there are seven coaches capable of making plausible cases why their teams can win a title. And just four or five who know their teams have no chance of earning an FCIAC Tournament berth.

All of which should provide added interest not just for the second half of the season, but for the playoffs as well. Whichever team goes in as the No. 1 seed will hardly be a prohibitive favorite. Given the balance, it may even be better to go in as No. 2 or 3 and not have a target on the back, especially considering there should be little difference between the 6-8 seeds.

There is plenty of time to look ahead. For now, lets rewind the DVRs and give out our midseason awards.

Trinity Catholic's Schadrac Casimir has been the most valuable player in the FCIAC through the first half of the season.

MVP: Schadrac Casimir, Trinity Catholic: I judge an MVP not by who has had the best season, but the top player whose loss would impact a team most. Casimir, who has been nothing short of sensational in averaging 27.3 points a game, has been both.

Surprise Team: Westhill: Quick, name one player on the Vikings. Unless you are a close follower of the league, you likely can’t. And that is what has made the Vikings, who are 9-1 over all and, at 8-0 the last unbeaten team in conference play, so formidable. This is a collection of solid players who perform well together and are special defensively. They also turn the ball over way too often, a trend that if it continues will catch up with them.

Best Coach: Mike Evans, New Canaan: In the preseason the Rams were a leading candidate for worst team in the league. Today they sit at 5-6 and are in the hunt not only for a state playoff but FCIAC Tournament berth as well. Evans has done a tremendous job in his first half season.

Best Performance: Casimir scores 50 against Greenwich: If you score 50 points and put your team on your shoulders for a double overtime win, you have put on the best performance. One that won’t be topped, maybe, for years.

Best Game: St. Joseph beat Trinity Catholic in overtime: I hate to get all cliche, but if ever there was a game that could best be described as two heavyweight boxers landing haymakers at one another, this was it. There was tense emotion, great efforts, lead changes and then the Cadets’ improbable comebacks from 5-point deficits in the closing seconds of both regulation and overtime. The latest chapter in the league’s best rivalry will resonate for a long time. We are talking years, not weeks or months.

Biggest Disappointment: Staples*: Before everyone in Westport gets in an uproar, look at the asterisk. We had high hopes for the Wreckers being a midlevel seed in the FCIAC Tournament. After a slow start they have won two games in a row to get back to .500. Still a good chance they could meet our preseason expectations.

Underclassmen We Can’t Wait to See As a Senior: Jeremiah Livingston, Westhill: I can remember sitting with Westhill athletic director Mike King at a soccer game this past fall when the conversation turned to the prospects for the boys basketball team. King hyped up Livingston as a future star. The dynamic guard is well on his way.

Most Improved: Brandon Wheeler, Trinity Catholic: While Casimir may have surpassed our lofty expectations, it is Wheeler’s development as a go-to player that has elevated the Crusaders into championship contender. His rebounding has been as important as his scoring, shoring up one of the team’s weaknesses.

Best Newcomer: Matt Staubi, Darien: A lot was made of the point guard when he transferred to Darien. He has been the team’s one big bright spot.

Unsung Hero: Jake Pelletier, St. Joseph: With a fiery personality, Pelletier has been the Cadets’ emotional leader, and earned praise from a number of opposing coaches.

All-Out Hustle Award: Quincy McKnight, St. Joseph: McKnight is one of the league’s best players, but watch his effort at the end of regulation in the game against Trinity Catholic. He seemed to be in a non-stop sprint, making two steals that got the Cadets to overtime and gave them the chance to win the game.

Trend to Watch: Wilton and the 3: Perhaps no team is more dependent on one element than the Warriors are with the 3-point shot. Quite simply, when they make them, they win. Their fortunes the rest of the way will ride on staying hot from long distance.

Doing What It Takes To Win, Fairfield Ludlowe: Falcons coach Brian Silvestro has been smart: he knows he usually loses the personnel matchup on many nights, so he has compensated by dictating tempo. Ludlowe, remarkably, has won three games when it scored 35, 32 and 30 points. That is the reason it is in the hunt for twin postseason berths.

Game to Watch: Ridgefield at Trinity, Jan. 29: Many people considered the Tigers a preseason favorite, and their status will not change with a loss at Trinity next week. But right now they are 2-2 against teams with winning records. This is the opportunity for a good statement win on the road.

Championship Game Non-Partisan Fans Most Want to See: Trinity Catholic-St. Joseph II: See above. There is no other matchup the general fan wants to see more than a rematch. It isn’t even close.

Categories: General

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18 Responses

  1. Dr. Von Nostran says:

    Trinity/SJ/Kolbe all have an inherent advantage…true.
    But, there are public schools programs that allow the same sort of movement between towns (i.e. Trumbull’s agricultural program).

  2. Dave Ruden says:

    You have to attend a public school in the town you reside in. But you are right this is beating a dead horse. Bottom line: St. Joseph and Trinity do have inherent advantages being able to draw from within their regions. It is all legal. And if you say their should be a separate private school league like in New York, I can’t argue with you. But there isn’t. Until that changes, it is the same old song.

  3. TCHSRecruitingDirector says:

    I would like to institute a rule that says any adult over the age of 21 that comes onto this blog’s comments section and complains about TC or St. Joe’s being able to enroll students that live outside of Trumbull or Stamford IS not allowed to attend another high school sporting event in their life. Talk about beating a dead horse.

    Dave can you prove or disprove this statement? If I’m a Stamford resident and wish to attend Darien High School, can I pay to do so? Is there any sort of law that enables students to attend schools outside their districts? I’d heard that Port Chester students often enroll in Greenwich High by basically “paying tuition” to the city. Any truth to this?

  4. Hoops fanatic says:

    Senior Weston Wilbur and Junior Eric Houska have been doing an incredible job helping Wilton upset some top teams. Both of them consistently lead the team in scoring, assists and steals. Watch out for this team to make a run at the last two spots in FCIACs!

  5. Dave Ruden says:

    Solid team and very good player.

  6. anon says:

    no love for roy kane jr and the norwalk boys?

  7. Dave Ruden says:

    Kurt is one of the best players in the league. He is also one of the most consistent. What makes him so good is what makes it hard to categorize him. I guess if I had made a Mr. Consistency award it would have gone to him. Not a knock that he wasn’t mentioned. Kurt and RIdgefield are just sort of steadily rolling along. Looking forward to seeing them play on Tuesday.

  8. Anonymous says:

    No love or award for my man Kurt at Ridgefield??

  9. Dave Ruden says:

    Yep you caught me, I’ve been just supporting Trinity. I’m a biased journalist. I root for some teams and against others and you are the wizard who finally figured me out. This is getting old. And boring. Think what you want.

  10. Love Fciac says:

    Im blind at all Dave everyone know you been supporting Trinity for years. How about not talking about and doing a story on Westhill Basketball Team the only team left in the Fciac without a loss. That would be good for the school and players. Stop making excuses

  11. Dave Ruden says:

    Been giving them plenty of credit. Not sure why you’re blind to it.

  12. Love Fciac says:

    He been coaching the only game he did not coach was the Bassick and Harding game I been at all Westhill games. Just give Coach White credit and his team so credit.

  13. Dave Ruden says:

    Check my story in today’s Advocate.

  14. anonymous says:

    Looking forward to the big article about the real Stamford team Westhill High School’s undefeated in the FCIAC basketball team.

  15. Dave Ruden says:

    The ONLY reason I didn’t pick Howard is he hasn’t coached the whole season. He took over for good just a few games ago and always referred me to his assistant for interviews early on. If he had coached the whole season he would be my pick. And I have been giving Westhill nothing but praise all season — I really love the way this team plays — so I don’t know why you would say I am all about Trinity, St. Joseph or any other school.

  16. Love Fciac says:

    Dave you got to be kidding me naming the New Canaan coach Midseason Best Coach in Fciac his team is under 500 Dave. By the way no one expected Weshill to be winning like this either and still Coach White get no credit for having a good team. You will never change so keep up the so call good work you are but can you please start giving those kids and coaches credit. You are all about Trinity and St Joesph. That Coach at Westhill is doing an outstanding job with those player. Like you said early Dave no even talk about Westhill during Preseason but look at their record 9-0 10-1 but it does not count on your behalf.

  17. Dave Ruden says:

    Seeing that more than half the league was mentioned, not sure why you would say that.

  18. anonymous says:

    Dave,

    Sounds like you would rename the FCIAC Boys’ Hoop League St. Trinity Catholic Joseph !!

    I for one, hope neither team that recruits makes it to the Championship. Would love to see a Westhill Norwalk Final.