Analysis: Greenwich boys have eyes on FCIAC playoffs
Updated 11:21 pm, Thursday, January 24, 2013
Last season the Greenwich boys basketball team got off to a torrid start before running into the FCIACs top teams and slowing down before rallying and nearly making the FCIAC playoffs, losing on the final night of the regular season at Danbury in an overtime thriller.
The schedule broke differently this year with the Cardinals facing many of the top teams early on, but there is one constant from a year ago.
The final game will be against Danbury, this time at home, and the Cardinals are hoping a playoff berth will once again be on the line.
Greenwich has some work to do if it wants that final game to mean something two years in a row.
More InformationCardinal moments
Dec. 12, GHS 54, Warde 49: Cards are victorious in opening game of the season.
Dec. 14, Trinity 89, GHS 81 (2OT) : It was a loss but the game showed the Cards they could compete with any team in the league. Breakout game for CJ Byrd, who scored 26 points.
Dec. 21, GHS 57, Ludlowe 42: Alex Wolf has his breakout game, scoring 20 points.
Jan. 18, GHS 55, Darien 44: Cards avenge loss in LaVista tournament.
-- SCOTT ERICSON
The Cardinals sit at 6-6, 5-5 in the FCIAC and are in a tie for ninth place in the league with the top eight teams qualifying for the postseason.
The Cardinals have shown glimmers of being a team that can make noise in the playoffs, but must focus on ball control moving forward as turnovers have plagued the team.
"We need to stop giving up the ball," Greenwich coach Bill Brehm said. "Too many turnovers in key situations. We have talked about it and we need to work more on it. We also talked about some of the fundamental stuff like if you are getting over played you have to go back door and getting the ball back to the one man to reset stuff."
Greenwich got a boost to start the season with the addition of 6-foot-9 junior forward Alex Wolf, who transferred from Blair Academy in New Jersey and has become the focus of most opposing defenses, often drawing double and triple teams.
Greenwich has been a jump shooting team in the past with the big men more likely to take the ball on the perimeter rather than posting up down low, which is where Wolf seems most comfortable.
The adjustment has not been easy, but Brehm feels the team is learning to play with the new dynamic introduced by Wolf.
"Yes and no. Last year with Sem (Kroon) he wasn't like a true big man and Wolfie is truly a big man," Brehm said. "We've worked on delivering to the post because we have had a lot of turnovers delivering to the post."
The issue speaks to the Cardinals lack of a true point guard who can take control when needed and get the ball into the hands of scorers.
Lack of a floor general aside, a few players have stepped into the spotlight this season.
Junior forward CJ Byrd broke out for 26 points against Trinity Catholic in the game of the year, so far, and has taken on a larger role in the offense since then, despite missing a few games with a broken hand.
Trinity won the game 89-81 in double overtime after Byrd fouled out during the first overtime.
Junior guard Jimmy Djema also established himself on the varsity in that game, scoring 13 points but also busting his tail chasing around Trinity's all-league guard Shadric Casimir most of the evening.
Captain Alex McMurray gives the team one thing every game.
McMurray is routinely on the floor fighting for loose balls and can be counted on for critical steals late in games, using his football background to intercept passes at the top of the key, before taking them the other way for layups.
McMurray took a more active role on the offense against Norwalk, scoring 19 points.
Sophomore Leonel Hyatt, a 6-4 forward, has started most games as he learns on the fly at the varsity level, getting more confident every time he takes the floor.
When clicking, Hyatt and Wolf could be an imposing tandem on the blocks.
Defensive specialist Jon Palmer has just returned from a thumb injury that sidelined him for about a month and helps stabilize the defense with his quick feet and solid court awareness.
Brehm feels this version of the Cardinals has what it takes to make the FCIAC playoffs and possibly make some noise in the Class LL state playoffs.
"I totally think they can make a rally and make a run," Brehm said. "These are great kids, they work hard and I don't see them giving up. At all. They are still in it."
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