Monday, November 03, 2008

Preseason Top 25: No. 6 St. Patrick

6. St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.)
Coach: Kevin Boyle (432-125, 20 years at St. Patrick)
2007-08 record: 25-5 (lost in Non-Public Group B North Jersey final), No. 13 in final National Prep Poll
Top players: F Michael Gilchrist (6-6), So.; G Dexter Strickland, Sr. (6-2); F Paris Bennett, Sr. (6-6); G Kyrie Irving, Jr. (6-2); G Kevin Boyle Jr., Jr. (5-9); G Dean Kowalski, Sr. (5-9)
Team strength: Defense, guard play, chemistry
Question mark: Shooting consistency
Toughest games: Dec. 19-23 City of Palms Classic; Dec. 26-30 Beach Ball Classic; Feb. 13 vs. Brooklyn Lincoln (N.Y.); Feb. 14 vs. Oak Hill Academy (Va.) at Primetime Shootout
Outlook: The Celtics were one of three teams from New Jersey to finish last season ranked among the Top 15 in the nation. All of St. Patrick's losses were to teams that spent time in the Top 25, including a 64-52 postseason setback to eventual Prep Poll champion St. Anthony. This year's team will be guard-heavy but highly athletic and very tough on defense. Four key contributors are back along with a very talented transfer. Nationally, Gilchrist is a consensus top 5 player in the Class of 2011. He is long and athletic, and plays aggressively on both ends of the court. Strickland, a North Carolina recruit, can play both guard sports and has a scorer's mentality. Bennett, who is headed to George Mason, has skills to play both inside and outside. Boyle considers Irving, a transfer from prep school Montclair Kimberly, the best junior in New Jersey. However, he must sit out 30 days to start the season before becoming eligible.

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