Windsor lost three starters from its 25-2 team. But coach Ken Smith doesn't want to hear about whether his team will be a serious concern for every one of its opponents this season.
"Apprehensive" typically is an apt word for teams that play Windsor. Its assorted defensive traps and transition game are among the premier ones in the state.
"I want our players to be angry if teams don't feel that way about playing us," Smith said. "I want our players to be honored by how we play."
In the past four years, Windsor reached the Class LL quarterfinal round twice, the second round once, won the title in 2009 and had an overall record of 93-11.
Guard Jared Wilson-Frame leads the Warriors, who open this season at home Wednesday night against E.O. Smith-Storrs. He averaged 14.5 points, but is renowned for his three-point shooting prowess with exceptional range.
He had nine threes in a 74-66 CCC semifinal win over Northwest Catholic-West Hartford last season. "The kid [Wilson-Frame] just went wild. He was the huge difference, and you have to tip your hat to him," Northwest Catholic coach John Mirabello said after that game.
Smith wants Wilson-Frame, a sturdy 6-foot-4 guard, to be a more complete player, able to score off the bounce, defend and make better decisions with the ball. "He can play all five positions," Smith said.
Wilson-Frame, senior center Jaquan Harrison (11 points, seven rebounds, two blocks) and 6-3 guard Chaunce Dunbar appear to give Windsor a productive core to have another impressive season.
Capital Prep Back And Strong
Last season Capital Prep-Hartford advanced to its first state title game, which it lost to Immaculate-Danbury in Class S.
Capital Prep is a strong favorite to make a return trip to the Mohegan Sun Arena in March.
It returns three starters in forward Brandon Marshall and guards Kahlil Dukes and Levy Gillespie Jr. Marshall is a strong rebounder, who averaged 7.3 last season. And Dukes (22 points), who's going to USC, and Gillespie Jr. (13.2 and 6.5 assists) form one of the top backcourts in the state.
"I think it will be really tough for teams to defend Kahlil and Levy in that they have both improved during the offseason," coach Levy Gillespie Sr. said. "Kahlil has worked on his quickness and shooting. Levy has become stronger and worked on his ability to score from different angles."
The Trailblazers, who open the season against last season's Class L champion Career Magnet-New Haven in the Doc Hurley Scholarship Classic at Weaver-Hartford on Saturday, have able players to fill out the starting roster. "Blair Howard and Elijah Robinson are candidates as well as AJ Hart and Hugh McCalla, who are seniors and played on the football team," Gillespie Jr. said.
Luster Makes Point For Valley
Valley Regional-Deep River coach Kevin Woods says that point guard Jonathan Luster is one of the most underrated players in Connecticut. "If I had a chance to choose any point guard in the state this year, I would choose Jonathan Luster," Woods said.
Luster, a 5-10 senior, averaged17.8 points and 4.6 assists last season. "He is one of those players that makes everyone on the team better, and with the talent on our team this year, that could be a scary thing," Woods said of the Warriors, the 2011 Class S champions.
Senior guard Mason King is a lock-down defender, and senior forward Chris Connor (16.5 points) can score for Valley Regional, which is a Class M team this season.
Depth In New Britain
With strength inside and outside along with a deep, youthful bench, New Britain should be a power in the CCC West.
Inside, the Golden Hurricanes, who were 14-10 and reached the Class LL quarterfinal round last season, feature forward Craven Johnson (13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds) and 6-5 Curtis Hyman. Outside they have guard Sheveran Williams-Hardy (15 points, 3.5 assists) and swingman Daequone Clark (9 points, 7 rebounds).
Coach Todd Stigliano said the 20-0 junior varsity team of last season infuses the varsity team with "a whole crop of hungry, ready players."
The goals for New Britain are high after it knocked off No. 3 Hartford Public in the second round of the Class LL tournament last season. New Britain's season ended with a 59-48 quarterfinal loss to Fairfield Prep.
"We set the bar decently high and got to the quarters," Stigliano said. "We want to move forward and make a significant run in the tournament this year."
Manchester Looks To Take Step
Manchester will spread the court and use its quickness in transition. If the Indians can rebound, they could be better than last season, when they went 20-7 and played in a Class LL quarterfinal.
Guard Chris Walker (14 points) leads the offense. Eddie Mack, Tyrone Davis and Devin Johnson supply more speed and points from the perimeter. Courtney DeBerry, a 6-2 center, and 6-3 forward Boise Murphy need to be sturdy on the boards to initiate fast breaks.
"We're hoping to use our depth as a springboard," coach Bob Healy said. "We certainly have a lot of experience. Now it's a case of improving in areas, such as team defense and ball handling." … East Hartford will miss guard Cane Brome (26.5 points), who transferred to St. Thomas More in Colchester. Northwest Catholic has a big void without forward Kuran Iverson, The Courant player of the year last season. Iverson (17.6. 9.2 rebounds) transferred to Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro, Va.
Bloomfield coach Gary Barcher, with 293 career victories, is seven shy of reaching 300. ... For the third consecutive year, Xavier-Middletown coach Mike Kohs has to wait for the end of the football season to see his complete team. Xavier beat Norwich Free Academy 48-14 Friday night in the Class LL title game. James Sullivan, who caught a 94-yard touchdown pass against NFA, is the top returning scorer (10.0 points) on Kohs' team. ... Middletown will start the season without starting forward Andrew Campbell, who broke his leg as a receiver for the football team against Bristol Central on Oct. 26. ... The state championships are March 15-16 at Mohegan Sun Arena.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times