Boys Basketball – 2021 Season Preview: Brick
Last year, for the first time since coach Mike Gawronski took over the program, Brick did not improve on its record from the prior season, following up a 13-win season in 2018-19 with a big drop-off at 2-18. That is an understandable descent considering how much senior leadership and scoring Brick had to replace and with a few experienced players coming back and some capable newcomers in the fold, the Green Dragons should get back to their old habit of building upon the previous season.
Four seniors project to get the starting nod on opening night, led by senior point guard Ty Williams. Ryan Duffy and Steven Novak are back in the front court as seniors, while classmate Alex Jenjoski joins Williams in the backcourt. Seniors and 6-foot-2 forwards James Rea and Alex Lawes are also back after playing on the 2019-20 varsity squad and should see key minutes off the bench, if not in the starting five.
Of course, with Brick looking to move the program forward, there will be plenty of non-seniors vying for big minutes. Junior Giuseppi Johnson transferred from Point Boro and will add to Brick’s back court, while fellow junior and 6-4 forward Jack Dougard offers a bigger starting option as a wing or a post player. Robert Giovine is another junior who should give the Dragons some guard minutes while sophomores Nick Verdesco and Waj Rahimi look to break into the rotation during another rebuilding season at Brick, albeit one that should go better than it did last year.
Brick is beginning its season late due to a COVID-related shutdown in the program. The Green Dragons are slated to open on Feb. 1 vs. Howell at home.
Head Coach: Mike Gawronski, ninth season
2019-20 Record: 2-18 (2-12, eighth in Class A South)
2020 Postseason Performance: Did not reach postseason
Disclaimer: Projected lineups listed in the 2021 Shore Sports Network Preview are not necessarily directly from coaches. Some are, while others are projections from Shore Sports Network staff. In either case, the projected lineup is fluid and could change leading up to the start of the season and beyond. Check back for periodic updates to every team's projected starting lineup on shoresportsnetwork.com.
Ty Williams, Sr., 6-0, Guard (RS)
Alex Jenjoski, Sr., 5-10, Guard (R)
Giuseppi Johnson, Jr., 6-0, Guard (Transfer from Point Boro)
Ryan Duffy, Sr., 6-1, Forward (RS)
Steven Novak, Sr., 6-3, Forward (R)
Anthony Maniscalco, 6-1, Guard
Brandon Bautista, 5-10, Guard
Joaquin Ragland, 6-0, Guard
Off the Bench
Jack Dougard, Jr., 6-4, Guard (R)
James Rea, Sr., 6-2, Forward (R)
Alex Lawes, Sr., 6-2, Forward (R)
Nick Verdesco, So., 5-9, Guard (R)
Robert Giovine, Jr., 5-11, Guard (R)
Waj Rahimi, So., 6-0, Guard (R)
RS – Returning Starter
R – Returning Varsity Player
Player to Watch: Ty Williams
Williams finished third on Brick in per-game scoring last season and should be a reliable scorer again as a senior. The Green Dragons are looking for Williams to continue to develop as a point guard, as well as one of the leaders of the program. Brick is still not at the level of talent it had two seasons ago, but Williams gives the Dragons a chance to be improved while a number of the juniors and sophomores ascend to bigger roles.
Big Shoes to Fill: Alex Jenjoski
Brick lost three steady contributors at the guard positions last year, particularly with top scorers Anthony Maniscalco and Brandon Bautista. That leaves a lot of points to pick up and Jenjoski will be asked to step in and take some of the pressure off of Williams in the back court while Duffy and Novak handle more of the frontcourt duties.
Impact Newcomers: Giuseppi Johnson
Johnson joins the Green Dragons after starting his career at Point Boro and will carve out a role in the Brick back court in some capacity. He should eventually emerge playing off of Williams in the back court and – along with classmate Jack Dougard – could even develop into a go-to option over the next two seasons.
X-Factor: Energy and Athleticism
There is a big gap for Brick to close between itself and the rest of the pod, which includes Brick Memorial, Central, Howell, Jackson Memorial and Lakewood. Brick Memorial graduated some impact offense and Lakewood is in a state of transition, so the Green Dragons could draw closer to the middle of the pod as long as they maintain their reputation as a hard-nosed team that plays with energy.
Jan. 26 vs. Central – Canceled
Jan. 28 at Central – Canceled
Jan. 29 vs. Barnegat – Canceled
Feb. 1 vs. Howell, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 3 at Howell, 3:45 p.m.
Feb. 5 at Toms River South, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 9 at Jackson Memorial, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 11 vs. Jackson Memorial, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 16 vs. Brick Memorial, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 18 at Brick Memorial, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 23 at Lakewood, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 25 vs. Lakewood, 6:30 p.m.