Life doesn’t always go as planned.
That’s the message that head coach Jason Dudzinski of Fayetteville-Manlius was conveying to his team in the locker room after the hard-fought battle with Liverpool that ended the season.
F-M finished the season with a 4-16 record and experienced what it is like for an athletic program during a transition period. Before the season, Dudzinski, who was in his first season as the head of F-M’s varsity basketball team, expected to contend for the Section III title despite the transition process.
The first-year head coach was replacing Tom Blackford, who owned a record of 180-114 in 14 seasons at F-M, per Donnie Webb of Syracuse.com. Dudzinski adopted his own offense and experimented with man-to-man defense throughout his first season.
He and his junior varsity coach, Ziare Coore, who was also in his first season, believe in a structured offense with a variety of different sets dedicated to specific plays. But they were masters when it came to scribbling and creating plays on the whiteboard on the fly and then watching their teams execute and follow through with them.
The duo also instilled a competitive nature in their players with their willingness to keep on competing until the final buzzer sounded, but the Hornets spent the season struggling to secure rebounds on both ends of the floor.
Their lack of size didn’t help them and hurt them throughout the season. They had a lot of trouble gathering offensive rebounds, which limited the amount of extra possessions that they had, and then collecting boards on the defensive end of the floor was also troublesome, giving F-M’s opponents second, third, and even fourth chances.
As for scoring, consistency was a struggle throughout the season.
At the beginning of the season, the Hornets were relying on the trio of Jawaan Crouch, Ryan Salzberg, and Timmy Zapisek, but, other players stepped up and supported the team as the season aged.
Zapisek began the year by spreading the floor for his team by doing some damage from beyond the three-point arc and then he transitioned into the pinch-post guy for the Hornets. He averaged just over 16 points per game and scored at least 20 points on five occasions this season.
Conversely, Crouch had an up-and-down type of a season. He had eight games with 15 or more points and seven games with less than ten points.
Nick Goodfellow gave his input and helped the trio when time was running out in his high school basketball career. He knocked down nine three-pointers in the final three games of the season, the same number of three-pointers that made in the first 17 contests.
And then, towards the end of the season, Nick Papa began to really play well and his willingness to run the offense showed Dudzinski and Coore that he can be relied on to lead on and off the floor next season.
For the Hornets, this season for boys’ basketball team was a lot like life. It was full of adversity and didn’t follow the road that some people had hoped it would.