“Do we pass the eye test, probably not, but I like this team,” St. Joseph boys basketball coach Paul Dudzinski said. “It works hard. The players are willing to be pushed to get the most out of them. The kids are getting to know each other, the coaches are getting to know the team.”
Dudzinski, a St. Joseph graduate, takes over a program that went 10-12 a year ago under Chris Watts, who left to take the head coaching position at Notre Dame of Fairfield.
Dudzinski’s Stratford High teams made it to the South-West Conference tournament 17 times in his 19 seasons. The Red Devils won state titles in 2008 and 20-10.
The Cadets are banged up coming into the season.
Senior Omar Telfer suffered a knee sprain in the fall league. Classmates Jack Moulder has a low ankle sprain and Camren Menefee is also coming off a sprain to his MCL.
“Those three seniors are the leaders on what we are going to do,” Dudzinski said. “Omar, Jack and Camren are our main guys, the guys that played last year are our leaders on the court. We have a lot of new guys playing their first varsity minutes. These guys are going to have to play their roles and get after it.
“Omar will be our our point guard, our two guard is Camren, and our three guard is Jack Moulder. We have a transfer from Foran High, Dan Tobin, and he’s a wing guard
“We have Brendan Zimlock, Paul Fabbri and Jack Greene and they can each play all the guard positions.
“Inside we have Thomas Montelli. He is a senior, who will be at small forward. We’ll start a freshman Gavin Green, a real athletic kid. He has a good knack on how to play the game. He is poised and mature for his age.
“Al Paolozzi is a guard-forward player for us. Ryan Donegan took a year off and is coming back this year at forward. Alec Pelletier is back and we’ll need him to help us inside.
“We’ll have to rebound the ball well, because we are not tall. We’ll have to take care of the ball, your basic basketball things. If we don’t do these things we are going to struggle.”
Playing an FCIAC schedule isn’t lost on Dudzinski.
“It is definitely a league full of big bodies, big young men,” he said. “Every night is a battle. It’s really about the bodies that you are playing against night in and night out. We don’t have those bodies. We’ll have to scrap and hustle and defend our basket, and not give up easy transition baskets. A lot of the basics we have to get down and get right.”
St Joseph travels to play Kolbe Cathedral tonight at 5 p.m. at Trinity Catholic’s Walsh Gym.
The Cadets play Prince Tech on Wednesday and visit Bridgeport Central Friday at 7.
They travel to play Bassick High on Tuesday at 2 p.m.