Saratoga Springs coach Mitch Snyder is ready to write off the 2007-08 season as an anomaly.
“I think we only had one or two kids available for all 20 games,” said Snyder, who saw his team struggle to a 3-11 record in the Suburban Council and an overall 6-15 mark last year. “It was a strange year.”
Snyder is hoping to avoid a repeat this season, and that shouldn’t be a problem, as long as senior Jordan Stevens stays healthy.
Stevens, a 6-foot-5 forward, was the defending Suburban Council Player of the Year last season, but only played in 13 games before breaking his hand. But in those 13 games, he averaged over 22 points per game.
“Everything will center around him again this year,” said Snyder. “Hopefully, he can come out and have a positive year. He’s already committed to Holy Cross, so that’s off his shoulders.”
But his shoulders will have to be big enough to carry the Streaks, as senior James Tucker, a 6-6 center, is the only other returning player who was a consistent starter last year.
“We’ve got kids who, because of all the mixes we used last year, got a lot of minutes, but the next thing for them will be to step up and understand their roles, and make baskets for us,” Snyder said.
Although Stevens is coming back, one of the things missing will be the three-division setup. Based strictly on enrollment, that format has been scrapped for a two-division, North and South setup. The North will consist of Ballston Spa, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Niskayuna, Saratoga Springs, Shaker and Shenendehowa, while Averill Park, Bethlehem, Colonie, Columbia, Guilderland and
Mohonasen will be in the South.
“It makes scheduling easier, and now if you win a division, it will feel like you’ve accomplished something,” said Niskayuna coach Mike Black.
Both Guilderland and Colonie advanced to the Class AA semifinals last year, with Guilderland losing to Christian Brothers Academy, and Colonie bowing to Bishop Maginn. Of those two, Colonie has the best shot at returning.
Although the Garnet Raiders lost Tashan Newsome, they return
senior Herb Tedford, a 6-6 forward who averaged just over 15 points per game last year, and 6-6 senior center Sean Peer.
“We should be more balanced this year,” said Colonie coach Doug Kilmer. “We relied on Newsome a lot last year.”
About the only team in the league that can match up with Colonie, in terms of size, is Shenendehowa. Senior Ryan Murphy is 6-6 and gives the Plainsmen a strong presence in the post, and he’ll get help on the boards from 6-4 Matt Lee and senior Doug Milvaney, who is Shenendehowa’s top defensive player.
“We’re big across the board, but we’re more of an outside team,
primarily,” said Shenendehowa coach Tony Dzikas. “We’ve got a number of guys who can shoot the ball, and we tend to neglect owning the low blocks.”
Sophomore point guard Jose Reyes will be running the Shenendehowa offense. “He’s talented, but inexperienced,” said Dzikas. “It’s time for him to get his feet wet.”
Teams had better be ready to run when they face Mohonasen, because the Mighty Warriors will be led by the guard tandem of
Anthony Robustiano, Nick Battagila and Robert Tedesco, all seniors.
“If this team was an engine, there’s no governor I could put on it,” said Mohonasen coach Ken Dagostino. “If I tried to slow them down, I’d be hurting them. With little guys, you just have to let them go.”
But it’s not all about the little guys. Senior Jordan Macejka averaged just under 13 points per game last year, and senior Joe Watroba is 6-4 and can handle himself inside.
Niskayuna will also be perimeter-oriented, with senior Gregg Rahn handling the point and Dan Peters and Josh Powers playing at the two-guard spot. Matt Royce, who averaged 15 points on the junior varsity last year, will help inside.
“With Guy Waltman and Royce, we’ll be more physical inside than we have been in the last couple of years,” said Black.
George Dudas faces an unusual dilemma at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake. Because the football team plays in the Class A championship game Saturday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, Dudas, who is now coaching the boys’ team
after a long stint on the bench with the girls, won’t have his full team at practice until Monday, one day before the season opener.
Guilderland only has two starters — seniors Kevin Kost and John Terry — returning from last year’s 20-3 team, and Averill Park will be hurt by the absence of Justin Collen, a 6-3 junior who is out for the year after tearing his ACL during football season.
Coach: Dave Pugliese.
Last year’s record: 8-6 Suburban, 12-9 overall.
Top returning players: Evan Boyle,
senior, guard; Kyle Byrne, senior, forward; Kevin Rocco, junior, guard; Kyle Keegan, junior, center.
Coach: Shaun Redman.
Last year’s record: 0-14, 2-18.
Top returning players: Cody Robinson, senior, forward; Mark Seager, junior guard.
Coach: A.G. Irons
Last year’s record: 9-5, 14-7.
Top returning players: Kevin Wendth, senior, guard; Ryan Prinzo, senior, guard; Will Baynes, senior, guard; Riley McGraw, senior, guard; John Kellogg, senior, guard.
BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE
Coach: George Dudas.
Last year’s record: 6-8, 12-11.
Top returning players: Not listed, at coach’s discretion.
Coach: Doug Kilmer.
Last year’s record: 10-4, 16-7.
Top returning players: Herb Tedford,
senior, forward; Sean Peer, senior center; Kyle Mafrici, senior, guard; Craig Arnold, senior, guard.
Coach: Jim Obermayer.
Last year’s record: 4-10, 7-14.
Top returning players: Steven King,
senior, guard; Shane Reed, senior, forward; Ian Gaule, senior, forward; Ansu Diggs,
Coach: Ron Osinski.
Last year’s record: 14-0, 20-3.
Top returning players: Kevin Kost,
senior, guard; John Terry, senior, forward; Chris Mannarino, senior; Pat Quinn, senior; Isiah Folds, senior.
Coach: Ken Dagostino.
Last year’s record: 8-6, 12-10.
Top returning players: Anthony Robustiano, senior, guard; Nick Battaglia, senior, guard; Robert Tedesco, senior, guard; Jordan Macejka, senior, forward; Joe Watroba, senior, forward.
Coach: Mike Black.
Last year’s record: 5-9, 8-13.
Top returning players: Dan Peters,
senior, guard; Gregg Rahn, senior, guard; Josh Powers, senior, guard; Guy Waltman, junior, center.
Coach: Mitch Snyder.
Last year’s record: 3-11, 6-15.
Top returning players: Jordan Stevens, senior, forward; James Tucker, senior, center.
Coach: Jeff Holmes.
Last year’s record: 7-7, 10-12.
Top returning players: Greg Bonomo, senior, guard/forward; Janique Lanier, senior, guard; Jerrel McFadden, senior, guard; Robert Johnson, senior, forward; Chris Hooks, junior, guard.
Coach: Tony Dzikas.
Last year’s record: 10-4, 12-9.
Top returning players: Doug Milvaney, senior, forward; Matt Lee, senior, forward; Matt Miner, junior, guard; Ryan Murphy, senior, center.