Ss. Neumann-Goretti, meet Rest of Pack. RoP, meet SN-G.
After roaring to two consecutive Catholic League basketball championships, collecting 56 wins in 60 outings and even claiming a Class AAA state title last winter, N-G is braced for a fall.
As coach Carl Arrigale put it, complete with a chuckle, "It wasn't easy seeing 4,000 points walk down the aisle."
Ah, but how much territory will this fall cover? Maybe one or two steps. Hardly an entire staircase.
The Saints return guard Lamin Fulton (St. Peter's) and two important subs, leaper Derrick Stewart and sniper Billy Shank, and the lower classes are loaded with prospects.
"I like our enthusiasm," Arrigale said. "We're going through a very tough early schedule and I hope we survive it. If we get some tough losses, I'll have to make sure we don't lose confidence."
Elsewhere around the CL, which has scrapped divisions for an all-one-league format (everybody plays everybody once), optimism is the highest at La Salle, Father Judge, Roman Catholic, Archbishop Carroll and Archbishop Wood (no guarantee on that order).
La Salle also boasts a special in guard Eddie Mitchell, the school's first Division 1 scholarship kid (Rider) since Craig Conlin, Episcopal Academy's new coach, headed to La Salle University in September 1985. There's also bulk (Brennan Woods), height (6-9 Steven Collins) and a modern marvel (Joe Brown; shoot jumpers lefthanded and layups righthanded).
At Father Judge, Seamus Radtke can look Collins eye-to-eye and he, too, has quality playmates in guards Reggie Charles and Joe Kehoe.
Roman Catholic needs to break out "O Canada" for its games in addition to the national anthem. That country sent us center Fortunat "Junior" Kangudi, who experienced some special moments in his transitional 11th-grade season and is primed for many more. The Cahillites are also long on talented youngsters.
Thanks primarily to guards Juan'ya Green (Niagara) and Joe Getz (many looks; already a 40-point outburst), Carroll and Wood, respectively, figure to make life difficult for some (many?) foes.
Looking for a dark horse? Go with St. Joseph's Prep. As it was, coach William "Speedy" Morris had two special youngsters in junior Gene Williams and sophomore Steve Vasturia (though currently hurt). Now, his squad also includes sophomore Miles Overton, son of ex-NBAer Doug Overton.
With the closing of North Catholic, Cardinal Dougherty and Kennedy-Kenrick, the league is down to 14 teams.
There are no new coaches, though Guy Moore moved from North to West Catholic to replace the retired Bill Ludlow.
The overall playoffs will include 10 teams, and the last four will involve themselves in pre-playoffs to earn spots in the eight-team regular portion.
RETURNING ALL-CATHOLIC TEAM
Returning members of the Daily News' 2009-10 All-Catholic Team:
FIRST TEAM: Juan'ya Green, Carroll, G.
SECOND TEAM: Joe Getz, Wood, G.
THIRD TEAM: Eddie Mitchell, La Salle, G; Reggie Charles, Judge, G.
FOURTH TEAM: Lamin Fulton, N-G, G.
HONORABLE MENTION: Guards: Gene Williams, SJ Prep; Eric Fleming, Ryan; Joe Kehoe, Judge; Steve Vasturia, SJ Prep. Forwards/Centers: Seamus Radtke, Judge; Scott Slade, Bonner; Fortunat "Junior" Kangudi, Roman; Joe Brown, La Salle.
CATHOLIC LEAGUE THUMBNAILS
Coach: Paul Romanczuk, 8th year (missed '05 on medical leave). Education: Carroll, Penn. Career: 110-76.
Last year: 14-2, 24-5.
Savvy seven: Juan'ya Green, 6-3, G; Jay Donovan, 6-2, F; Tracy Peal, 6-5, F; Yosef Yacob, 6-foot, G; Shane Randall, 6-5, G; Thomas "Toe" Boyle, 5-11, C; Matt Donaldson, 6-4, F-C.
Romanczuk's comment: "We have a hard-working group with a good deal of growth ahead of us. We hope to be playing our best basketball in February when the playoffs roll around."
Coach: Bernie Rogers, 11th year. Education: Ryan, Ursinus. 149-109.
Last year: 4-10, 7-15.
Savvy seven: Eric Fleming, 6-2, G; Mike Rymal, 5-10, G; Tyler Donnelly, 6-1, F; Christian Rivera, 6-1, F; Nick Aughenbaugh, 6-2, F; Kyle Slawter, 6-foot, G; Brian Okolo, 5-10, G.
Rogers' comment: "The coaches are very pleased with the players' focus, energy, and enthusiasm, both in practice and games!"
Coach: Jack Walsh, 2nd year. Education: Wood, Delaware Valley. Career: 16-8.
Last year: 11-5, 16-8.
Savvy seven: Joe Getz, 6-foot, G; Jack Walsh, 6-foot, G; Drew Greenfield, 6-4, F-C; Shane Neher, 6-4, F; Joe LoStracco, 6-6, C; Tommy Rush, 5-9, G; Kyle Adkins, 5-9, G.
Walsh's comment: "We are a blend of experience and youth. Hoping the chemistry will keep us competitive throughout the year."
Coach: Jack Rutter, 16th year (missed final 16 games of '05 on medical leave). Education: Dougherty, Alvernia. Career: 136-217.
Last year: 1-15, 4-18.
Savvy seven: Ryan Leaks, 6-3, F; Basil Wright, 6-1, F; Imowo Udo-Utun, 6-3, C; Gerald Scott, 6-foot, G; Markeise Chandler, 6-1, F; Brahieme Jackson, 6-2, F; Kenyatta Long, 5-10, G.
Rutter's comment: "A classy blend of basketball traditions – this year's team is unified in heart and drive."
Coach: Tim Kelly, 3rd year. Education: O'Hara, Muhlenberg. Career: 7-36.
Last year: 1-13, 5-17.
Savvy seven: Sean Mayo, 6-4, F; Joel Davidson, 6-1, G; Terrell Grobes, 6-4, G; Pat Hagenbach, 5-11, G; Chris Duffin, 5-10, G; Lamotte Williams, 6-1, G; Ed Allen, 6-5, G-F.
Kelly's comment: "We graduated 8 seniors and lack varsity experience. But with balanced scoring and a mixture of guard/forward play, we hope to mature quickly and compete for a playoff spot."
Coach: Rick Sabol, 4th year. Education: Conwell-Egan, Kutztown. Career: 38-32.
Last year: 10-6, 14-9.
Savvy seven: Jamal Nwaniemeka, 6-2, F; Matt Petrizzi, 6-foot, G; Kyle Bonner, 5-11, G; Sean McCarthy, 6-2, F; Dylan Pease, 6-1, F; Carlton Whitehead, 6-2, G; Ryan Pepito, 5-7, G.
Sabol's comment: "We have a good group of players who work very hard, but we are young and inexperienced. We will need to improve throughout the season if we are going to compete in our league."
Coach: Sean Tait, 2nd year (also Wood, 2009). Education: Judge, Cabrini. Career: 25-20; 9-13 at Judge.
Last year: 6-8, 9-13.
Savvy seven: Reggie Charles, 6-3, G; Seamus Radtke, 6-9, F-C; Joe Kehoe, 5-11, G; Nick Sullivan, 5-10, G; Benny Birch, 5-8, G; Steven Griffin, 5-11, G; Brett Zanneo, 6-2, F.
Tait's comment: "Experienced group. If we play hard, smart and together, we'll be all right."
Coach: Bernie Fitzgerald, 3rd year (also La Salle, 1992-93, 2002). Education: La Salle, Lafayette. Career: 47-72; 16-28 at Lansdale.
Last year: 5-11, 8-14.
Savvy seven: Chris Hays, 5-7, G; Kyle Pagan, 6-4, F; Ray Harmer, 6-4, C; Matt Pinzka, 6-foot, F; Alex Talarico, 5-10, G; Brendan Pinder, 5-10, G; Nick DeMeno, 5-5, G.
Fitzgerald's comment: "Playoffs or bust. Our goal is to become a consistent playoff team."
Coach: Joe Dempsey, 7th year. Education: Archbishop Kennedy, Elizabethtown. Career: 74-80.
Last year: 12-2, 20-6.
Savvy seven: Mike Poncia, 5-10, G; Eddie Mitchell, 6-foot, G; Amar Stukes, 6-1, G; Brennan Woods, 6-5, F-C; Steven Collins, 6-9, C; Joe Brown, 6-5, F; Kevin Piotrowicz, 5-11, G.
Dempsey's comment: "I like our versatility and depth. We can play big or small, fast or slow. That said, we need to get better at situational basketball."
Coach: Tom Meakim, 2nd year. Education: Bonner, Phila. Textile. Career: 8-14.
Last year: 5-9, 8-14.
Savvy seven: Scott Slade, 6-5, F; Joe McGinn, 6-1, G; Craig Slade, 6-5, C; Josh Hoho, 6-3, F; Billy Cassidy, 5-10, G; Nick Ransone, 6-3, F; Anthony Jackson, 6-foot, G.
Meakim's comment: "We hope to gain enough game experience in the preseason so we can compete when the Catholic League season rolls around."
Coach: Chris McNesby, 3rd year. Education: Roman, East Stroudsburg. Career: 36-18.
Last year: 11-3, 18-9.
Savvy seven: Fortunat "Junior" Kangudi, C; Dennis Regan, G; Montana Mayfield, G; Shafeek Taylor, G-F; Britton Lee, G; Shep Garner, Rip Engel. McNesby's comment: "Catholic League basketball will be great. Competitive games every night. If you are a fan, you have to love it. We are looking forward to it."
ST. JOSEPH'S PREP
Coach: William "Speedy" Morris, 10th year (also Roman, 1968-81; Penn Charter, 1983-84). Education: Roman. Career: 588-154; 200-58 at SJ Prep.
Last year: 9-5, 17-8.
Savvy seven: Mike Fee, 6-2, G; Gene Williams, 6-3, G; Mike Levy, 6-3, F; Steve Vasturia, 6-3, G; Miles Overton, 6-3, G-F; James Stewart, 6-1, G; Kevin Oberlies, 5-11, G.
Morris' comment: "Teamwork makes the improbable VERY probable."
Coach: Carl Arrigale, 13th year. Education: Penn Charter, Lycoming. Career: 271-72.
Last year: 16-0, 30-1.
Savvy seven: Lamin Fulton, 5-9, G; Derrick Stewart, 6-5, F-C; Billy Shank, 5-8, G; John Davis, 6-4, F; Ja'Quan Newton, 6-2, G; La'Quan Coaxum, 6-2, G; Hanif Sutton, 5-7, G.
Arrigale's comment: "I'm intrigued by these kids' eagerness, and willingness to be taught. Now we just have to get experience."
Coach: Guy Moore, 1st year (also N. Catholic, 2010). Education: Roman, Temple. Career: 11-12.
Last year: 12-2, 17-9.
Savvy seven: Yuri Burton, 6-4, F; Christen Gibbs, 6-1, G; Anthony Fleet, 6-6, F-C; Tristin Freeman, 6-1, G; Kevin Malone, 6-foot, G; Jaleel Reed, 6-foot, G; T-J Waters, 6-4, F.
Moore's comment: "We will have a blue collar style of play, with a lot of growing pains along the way."