The Colonial Conference is distinguished by its point guard play. Two of the better point guards in the area compete in the Colonial, seniors A.J. Greenwald of West Deptford and Mark DiRugeris of Woodbury.
Greenwald averaged 22.6 points per game last season, and DiRugeris averaged 15. Both are also top distributors.
"It's a stacked league for point guards," DiRugeris said. "And don't forget Tyrone Mann-Barnes of Collingswood and Amir Love of Paulsboro."
That means that life won't be easy for any Colonial point guard.
"It's hard to play every night and knowing a lot of teams' best players is a point guard," DiRugeris said. "But I love the challenge."
Paulsboro is hoping to get a good medical report when junior guard Kevin Johnson goes back to the doctors today.
Johnson suffered a blod clot in his thigh while playing football in September.
"He's getting a lot of rehab, and we're hoping he can get cleared [today]," coach Byron Dixon said.
Johnson and Love are capable point guards, but the two together give Paulsboro one of the quickest backcourts in the Colonial.
Couple in 6-foot senior John Gardner (15.9 points per game average), and this could be an explosive scoring Paulsboro team.
Woodbury is the consensus choice among an informal polling of coaches to win the Colonial Conference Patriot Division. Besides DiRugeris, Woodbury opponents have to deal with 6-0 twins Isiah and Jared Roberts, who are two relentless defenders.
Paulsboro is looked on as the biggest challenger to Woodbury.
West Deptford, with Greenwald and Charlie McShane (13.7 points per game average) is considered a slight favorite in the Liberty Division. Defending overall Colonial champion Collingswood and Haddonfield are considered the main contenders. Sterling, with senior guard Chris Ward, who is considered among the better shooters in the Colonial, can't be discounted.
Mitch Carsillo, a senior guard for Collingswood and key contributor to winning last season's South Jersey Group 2 and Colonial Conference titles, has come back from a dislocated kneecap. Carsillo suffered the injury while playing in a summer basketball game and underwent surgery in July.
"His work ethic has been unbelievable," coach Joe McLoughlin said.
Carsillo and Mann-Barnes are the two experienced players back from last season's team.
Little experience at Haddonfield.
This is one of the least experienced Haddonfield teams in recent memory, with no returning full-time starters. Still, the Bulldogs are still considered potential contenders.
This will be a team that depends heavily on sophomores, including three in particular: 6-3 Wyatt Polk and 6-1 twins Kevin and Chris Davis.
"The Davis' are tough-minded kids who were on the football team and bring a football mentality to the court," Haddonfield coach Paul Wiedeman said.
The Colonial Conference had an unusually high coaching turnover. There are five new coaches in the Colonial. Mike Ricci, who was at Gateway, has moved to Haddon Heights. Ricci was replaced at Gateway by former assistant Tim McDonald. The other new coaches are Ken Avent at Woodbury, Rob Atene at Sterling and Don Clark at West Deptford.
New at Haddon Heights.
Ricci takes over a Haddon Heights team with no returning starters after graduating eight seniors. Despite the youth, he has been pleased with the players' work ethic in the preseason, led by senior guard Chris Roundtree, a senior who was an all-conference defensive back in football.
"Chris is such a great leader, and I'm confident I could put him on any player, and he can shut him down," Ricci said.
Besides Roundtree, senior forward Mike Wilson will add experience.
Who says the preseason doesn't count? After winning three games in each of the last two seasons, Audubon had consecutive wins in the preseason, and coach Dave Ricci hopes it has a carryover effect.
"The last two years we didn't win a scrimmage, so we see this as a positive sign," Ricci said.
Audubon returns four starters, led by football quarterback Brandon Hill, a 6-5 junior who averaged 11.3 points.