The invitation has not officially been extended to East Lyme High, but Al Carbone’s message is clear: come join the Southern Connecticut Conference.
Carbone, the SCC commissioner, made what he felt like was a “informative and thorough presentation” Thursday night at the school before most of East Lyme’s coaches. Some of the discussion surrounding any chance of East Lyme departing the Eastern Connecticut Conference for the SCC has been based on football, and filling the void left by Derby in 2009.
But what about boys basketball? Carbone said a realignment could be possible, even if East Lyme stays in the ECC.
“We are going to do the research with or without East Lyme,” Carbone said. “It could be three divisions, it could be tiers. If we realign, the names of the division will prove meaningless, unless you do it purely on geography.”
Boys basketball is the only sport in the SCC, other than football, that has not altered its scheduling or division format since the 2004-05 season when it moved to the current four-division format (Hammonasset, Housatonic, Quinnipiac and Oronoque).
Several years ago, a number of different proposals were discussed, including a Division I-Division II format, but none of the proposals passed. So what’s to think anything will change this time around?
“Are these the most equitable or competitive divisions? What’s in our best interest?” Carbone asked. “With 20 teams, if you look at the current alignment, is playing 18 games the right thing? I don’t have an answer, I want to look at it and what’s best for our schools.”
Two coaches contacted for this story, Jason Shea from Notre Dame-West Haven and Ricky Narracci from East Haven, agree on one thing: teams should play everyone in the league and not go years without facing an opponent. Narracci feels this is feasible within a two-year period.
Shea said Notre Dame’s game against Branford last week was the first scheduled league contest between the two schools since 2003.
”The real question is do we want to continue to promote a system where more teams make the state tournament or go to a system that increases the success rate of our teams in the tournament,” Shea said. “I don’t think anything is glaring right now that’s wrong with the way we schedule currently. … No doubt it’s been hard to change because everyone looks at it from their own team’s perspective.”
Said Narracci: “I will play everyone as long as everyone is playing the same teams. You take a job to coach a team, you know the league you are in. How do you come into a league and say, ‘We don’t want to play this or that team.’ That’s not right.”
Narracci made a three-division alignment proposal for boys basketball if East Lyme were to join:
- Housatonic: Amity, Cheshire, Shelton, Sheehan, Lyman Hall, North Haven and West Haven.
- Hammonasset: Foran, Law, Guilford, Hand, East Haven, Branford and East Lyme.
- Quinnipiac: Hillhouse, Career, Wilbur Cross, Hamden, Notre Dame, Fairfield Prep and Xavier.
Play each team in your division twice (12 games), play the team that finished in the same place as you twice. That leaves four games teams need to schedule.
“I don’t care who we play. I just want it to be equitable,” Narracci said.
For now , there are more questions than answers.
“When you have a playoff deciding the four division (overall conference) champion and rewarding those division champions, are those your four best teams?” Carbone said. “Do we need to reduce or eliminate the non-competitive games? These are things that need to be discussed.”