GREENWICH, Conn. – Alex McMurray had barely taken off his football cleats when he had to jump into the boys basketball season as Greenwich High's captain.
McMurray had just two weeks to prepare for basketball, and his leadership has been felt in the Cardinals' first three games of the season. But he knows his presence is not enough for his team to succeed.
"I thought I was ready, but when I got up to game speed I saw that I was nowhere near ready," he said. "I have to practice 20 times harder than I have been to get into my game shape and ability."
Greenwich opened with a 2-1 record, and it took two overtimes and a 50-point effort by Trinity Catholic's Schadrac Casimir to hand the Cardinals their only loss so far.
The Cardinals also went through a transition at center, losing the 6-foot-10 Sem Kroon to transfer but gaining the 6-foot-9 Alex Wolf.
Greenwich got off to its hottest start in a decade last season, kicking off the 2011-12 campaign with a 9-2 record and sitting atop the conference standings.
But the wheels fell off in the back half of the season. Greenwich went 2-7 in its final nine games, missing out on the conference tournament on a tiebreaker and losing in the opening round of the Class LL state tournament.
Last season's collapse was "all mental," McMurray said. But Greenwich now has the maturity and the talent to clinch its first conference playoff berth since 2008, he said.
"We have the experience and ability to do it this year," McMurray said. "Last year we lost a couple games in a row, and we fell completely apart. If we have a losing streak, we have to stay together and pick each other up."
He helped the Greenwich football team to its first state playoff appearance since 2007. McMurray rushed for 546 yards and 13 touchdowns as a running back, while also racking up 194 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver. He even saw time at quarterback early in the season when starter Liam O'Neil went down with a broken finger.