Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sports Person of the Week

Duffy Provides a Presence in the Paint


Connor Duffy established himself as a force down low as a sophomore center for the Morgan boys’ basketball team this winter. Photo courtesy of Connor Duffy

Connor Duffy established himself as a force down low as a sophomore center for the Morgan boys’ basketball team this winter. (Photo courtesy of Connor Duffy )

Connor Duffy brings a ton of raw talent to the court as a member of the Morgan boys’ basketball team. Standing 6 feet, 8 inches tall at just 15 years old, Connor, a sophomore center, has become a powerful presence for a Huskies’ club that finished with a record of 16-8 during the winter season.

Morgan had a great year that saw the team advance to the Shoreline Conference final with a thrilling 70-62 overtime win against Valley Regional. The Huskies went on to earn a first-round victory in the Division V State Tournament before the rest of the campaign was canceled.

“My favorite moment from the season was the Shoreline semifinals overtime victory over Valley Regional. We really had a great all-around game from everyone, and it really felt awesome getting revenge from an earlier defeat,” says Connor. “My favorite personal moment came against North Branford, when I got a dunk.”

Connor started in 23 games as a sophomore, averaging 5.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest. He also led the Huskies in field goal percentage by shooting the ball at a 65-percent clip for Head Coach Frank Rossi’s squad.

“Connor was arguably one of our most improved players, definitely compared to last year. He went from a few minutes a game in very limited action to a starter and key piece to our system,” Rossi says. “He’s always had great size, but he’s learning how to use it, improved his mobility, and really developed a ton of confidence around the rim.”

The Huskies are a team that is built around its height, featuring four players who stretch at least 6-foot-4. With all of that size, Coach Rossi had to figure out the best way to piece together his lineup to get Connor on the floor.

“Early on, we thought we might serve [Connor] a role as a backup to Robbie [Zirlis], but as the season progressed, he really became a key complement to Robbie as they got more comfortable playing together,” says Rossi. “Having two dominant post players was something that gave a lot of teams in the Shoreline trouble. Our size was a real key to our success.”

Connor was tall at a young age, but really spiked when he hit the 6th grade. Connor’s interest in basketball piqued in the late 2000s.

“What got me into the sport of basketball mostly was the Boston Celtics’ big three of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett. I like to model my game after a few Celtics like KG and Bill Russell,” Connor says. “I’ve also always been a huge UConn fan growing up and watching players like Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier play in the big dance.”

Connor’s stature allows him to play a physical style. The sophomore has a rigorous workout regimen that focuses on strength and agility.

“I really like the contact and physical nature of the game,” says Connor. “I have a daily workout, which consists of things like jumping rope, doing ladder work, running, weights, and putting up a few hundred shots.”

Along with his workouts, Connor gets a lot of feedback from Coach Rossi on the ways that he can improve his game.

“My head coach and I have a really strong relationship,” Connor says. “He pushes me to become the best player that I can be. He gives me tips on post moves, positioning on defense, and helps me understand the game better.”

Rossi has enjoyed working alongside Connor these past two seasons. The coach sees Connor becoming even more of a force to be reckoned with throughout the next two years.

“Connor is fun to coach, because he’s a real throwback. He’s as strong a rebounder as we have in the league, and he’s really learning how to play the center position defensively, protecting the rim, being physical, and just becoming a general presence in the paint,” Rossi says. “Tough doesn’t even begin to describe him. He’s only a sophomore, so I’m excited to see what kind of force he can become as he continues to mature, get stronger, and improves his footwork and agility.”

Connor views the 2019-’20 campaign as a huge success for Morgan. On the heels of such a memorable season, Connor wants to help the Huskies take home the Shoreline Conference title next winter.

“Next year, we want to fight for a banner. Now that we have been to the Shoreline finals, we’ve seen what we can do,” says Connor. “We have a lot of potential as a team and can definitely win a banner.”

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