By Joel Alderman
Stratford High’s basketball team lost is second in as many games Friday night in its second game after the sudden resignation of its 19-year coach, Paul Dudzinski, on Feb. 2nd.
This time it was Masuk, which defeated the undermanned Stratford team, 45-37, on its home court in Monroe. The loss eliminated the Red Devils from the post-season, which was virtually a foregone conclusion. Their record has sunk to 4-13 and they have lost five straight. Stratford, which has three games to go, got 14 points from Nate Shields in a losing effort.
Meanwhile, players and former players from Stratford are still trying to come to grips with the surprise departure of Dudzinski, who had been their highly regarded coach.
In the interim, more words of praise from two of his coaching peers have been published by the Connecticut Post.
ND-Fairfield coach, Vin Laczkoski
The day after Dudzinski left, Notre Dame-Fairfield coach Vin Laczkoski, commented, “It’s heartbreaking when you see a guy of that stature have to leave during the season. We wish it could’ve been handled differently. We all wish him the best.”
Laczkiski first coached with Dudzinski at Stratford 20 years ago.
Stratford’s interim coach, Anthony Pierro
After the most recent game, Pierro exclaimed that “Paul is a legend at Stratford High. He’s a Hall of Fame coach. He’s a good friend, and I wouldn’t be here without his blessing. It’s impossible to replace a guy like that.”
Similar to former star, Brandon Sherrod
The above feelings are similar, but not quite as extreme, as those expressed by former Stratford High and now Yale star, Brandon Sherrod. He said “without Dudzinski there’s no Stratford High basketball.” (See previous Sportzedge report)
Nevertheless, the Stratford team (or what’s left of it) is still playing basketball, but without two starters. Devon Davidson is out with a head injury and another team member is inactive due to disciplinary reasons. Yet it led 21-20 at the half and was as close as 34-33 in the fourth quarter, before losing the Masuk game.
Still fighting and learning
Pierro said “The guys that are here, they came together. They’re fighting to get wins. We’ve got a young group that’s learning on the job. It’s a bit frustrating right now. We’re having a hard time putting the ball in the hole.”
Unfortunately for Dudzinski, that is no longer his problem.