FAIRFIELD >> Under first year head coach John Dailey, the Fairfield Ludlowe boys’ basketball team possesses a lot of potential. Dailey rattled off a list of the starting five, which range from 6-foot-3 to 6-8. The key for the Falcons’ success this year will be determined by how they finish.
“Well, to be honest, you know defense in our program in years past has been good but we need to score the basketball,” Dailey said. “And we’re going to play a lot more up-tempo, try and get out in transition and score more points; we got to become a better perimeter shooting team, and we want to be deeper.”
Lone returning starter, senior guard Mark Malone, said the transition to Dailey at the helm has been smooth. Dailey was an assistant with the program under head coach Brian Silvestro, who resigned last March. It’s a new chapter for the Falcons and the group has responded.
“I’m very excited he’s the coach this year,” Malone said. “I think he’s going to do a great job with us. There have been some changes to the program but they’re good changes to help better the team.”
Part those changes start with a more consistent offensive flow. That was an area that both the players and Dailey addressed as an issue last year. The Falcons lost five games last season by six points or less.
“We’re still going to have that strong defensively mentality we’ve had the last couple years but we’re really trying to get out in transition and score more points, more than we did last year,” junior starting power forward Chad Peterson said. “We scored 43 points a game which we’re trying to improve upon.”
Added Dailey: “Again, if we can make shots we’re going to be tough to beat.”
The offense will run through a relatively young team that graduated six players. Along with Malone, 6-foot-4 Peterson, 6-4 junior Matt Doyle, 6-3 sophomore Darren Lee and 6-8 senior Kevin Hickey make up the starting five. The supporting cast includes 6-5 freshman Hayes Kelchner. It’s an impressive look from paper, but the height for the Falcons is still a work in progress.
“I think there’s a lot of potential,” Dailey said. “We need a lot of work. Kevin is returning to us after two years off and is still getting his feet wet. Hayes is terrific around the rim. Chad is very good around the rim and a great rebounder. We want to throw it down there a lot more; utilize our size to our advantage.”
The Falcons will be tested early as they have a brutally tough opening stretch to the season. They open at home on Wednesday hosting Harding, then travel to Darien on Friday. The following week Ludlowe will face Notre Dame-Fairfield on Thursday and play in the Fairfield Prep Holiday Tournament.
“We can do better than last year,” Peterson said. “We are a young team so we will be learning throughout the season but I definitely think we can compete. We just got to stay mentally tough, mentally sound throughout all our games and finish teams, and we’ll be right there.”