Basarab provides second option

By: Redd E. Patrick
   Although it’s just the 2004 portion of the 2004-05 season, the questions Monroe High School boys basketball coach Pete LoPresti had coming into this year have been answered.
   The only question he didn’t have was the play of A.J. Rudowitz. The 6-5 junior, who led Middlesex County in scoring last year with a 21.7 average, is netting 19.5 per game and that average would be higher if not for a seven-point output vs. Princeton when he left early because he was sick.
   Rudowitz more than bounced back when he nailed 35 the next game in a huge 64-55 win over Carteret last week.
   But when the season began, the question was whether or not the Falcons would have a second scoring option.
   Scott Basarab, a 6-3 senior swingman, has come to the rescue. After scoring six on opening night, Basarab has scored 16, 16 and 18 for a 14.0 average. Basarab has made nine 3-pointers, including at least one in every game.
   "Scott has really stepped up for us," LoPresti said. "With him being able to knock down the jumper, he gives us an inside/outside threat with A.J. And when they double down on A.J. he has someone to kick it out to."
   The Falcons do not have another double-figure scorer, but players such as 6-3 Dominik Rawle has chipped in with an 8.7 average, while sophomore Colin Horsch is at 7.2.
   "Colin is a sophomore who is still feeling his way around," LoPresti said. "But he’s given us another threat on the perimeter. Dominick has done some nice things too. He’s not really a scorer, but he can get his points off the glass for us."
   Another question was defense. Would the Falcons be able to defend for 32 minutes against more physical teams. A year ago, Monroe would compete, but it would get worn down in the end en route to a 2-19 record. This season, at 3-1, the Falcons have already improved on their win total.
   "Defensively, we’re getting everyone involved in order to keep up the intensity," said LoPresti, whose club is giving up 51.3 points per game after allowing 69 on opening night to GMC power Colonia. "We’ve been playing 10 people, in the first quarter. Last year, we could compete for three quarters, but then fall apart. So far, the kids have responded. The tough part of our schedule is coming up, so I’m still concerned."
   After beating Princeton to go to 1-1, the Falcons posted a big 64-55 win over Carteret, a team which has only lost once this season.
   "That was big for us," LoPresti said. "We really gave them a rough time defensively. We mixed it up with some zone and a matchup zone. That was a big confidence booster."
   Monroe went on to beat Timothy Christian 67-49 in the opening round of the Piscataway Tech Tournament on Tuesday. The Falcons were supposed to have taken on Academy Charter of Belmar in the final the next day, but there was a scheduling foul-up, so the game was moved to Thursday after press time.
   Next season, LoPresti will be looking for a different holiday tournament.
   When the Falcons return for the new year, the schedule will be brutal as games with North Brunswick, Sayreville and South Plainfield — all established programs — await.