There's nothing like getting a jump on things.
Just check out the summer schedule of Central Connecticut State shooting guard Robby Ptacek.
Ptacek took a different path this time. At the urging of his coach Howie Dickenman, Ptacek played for the Long Island men's open basketball team at the Empire State Games.
"Playing in the Empire State Games is different, because I usually don't play in any leagues in the summer," Ptacek said. "It was a good weekend, because I was able to see how much I've progressed."
Playing real games against Division I players, including Hosftra's Chaz Williams and Kent State's Justin Green, who both played for the New York City team, and Syracuse forward Mookie Jones, who suited up for Hudson Valley, was just what Ptacek needed.
"It was great to actually play against college players with real refs," Ptacek said. "We were running set plays. Plus real players actually play real defense."
Ptacek averaged 17.2 points per game to lead Long Island in scoring. His best game was a 25-point effort in a 94-65 win over Central. He had 24 points in the team's opening night loss to Western.
"Bobby played well for us," Long Island Empire State coach Dan Rickard said. "He shot well and led us in scoring."
Ptacek's numbers have improved in each of his first two seasons at CCS.
With several key players returning, including St. Dominic graduate Markeys Deans and Kenny Horton, who missed all of last season with an injury after leading the Blue Devils in scoring in 2008-2009, Ptacek believes his squad will be much better than its 12-18 record last year.
"I know everybody's working hard this summer," Ptacek said. "We should be pretty good this year."
Ptacek was second in scoring (12.1) last season; up from 10 points per game he averaged his freshman season. His three-point shooting percentage also rose from 32 to 38 percent.
"Working on my ball handling and being able to get to the rim was something I wanted to really work on this summer," Ptacek said. "But I'm basically trying to improve my overall game."
There's no doubt the Empire State Games helped in a big way.
Tropeano rolling along
Stony Brook righthander Nick Tropeano has made his presence felt in the Cape Cod baseball league this summer. The West Islip graduate has a 2-3 record in eight starts, but has an ERA of 3.27 and 42 strikeouts in 521/3 innings for the Cotuit Kettleers. Tropeano went 8-4 with a 2.44 ERA with 106 strikeouts in 99 innings for Stony Brook as a freshman last spring.