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Majchrzak Plays on the Edge

East Lyme High basketball guard Dan Majchrzak's style of play can be described as anything but "vanilla."

The 5-foot-10 left-hander plays at fast-forward speed. With his assortment of crossover and behind-the-back dribbles, no-look passes, steals, 22-foot jump shots, and acrobatic drives to the basket, his game resembles that of an inner-city guard buzzing up and down the court. There are no [former college coach] Dr. Tom Davis two-hand bounce passes in his repertoire.

Majchrzak embodies an inner-city style of play by design. He's one of the few East Lyme basketball players who plays his chosen sport all year, while most others are playing a fall and/or spring sport for the Vikings. And Majchrzak is not only a proverbial "gym rat" who shoots for hours in the gym. He seeks greater competition in basketball hotbeds.

"I got hooked up with an AAU team for two years, the Hartford Heat, and I was the only white guy on the team," Majchrzak said. "It's a great level of basketball, and I learned some moves from playing with them every day. I've played in Providence, and I also play with some buddies from New London and have learned a lot. They play with this edge that nobody is better than them and nobody can take the ball from them. They feel they can do whatever they want on the court."

It's a style that entertains fans and drives opposing coaches crazy ... sometimes your own coach. East Lyme's Dan Spellman cherishes Majchrzak's passion for the game and his creative ability. Through 16 of 20 regular season games, he's averaged 19 points for the 14-2 Vikings, who were on the verge of winning the Eastern Connecticut Conference Large title at deadline. Spellman gives Majchrzak a long leash to express his creativity because of the year-long commitment he gives to the game.

But Majchrzak sometimes approaches the edge of playing out of control.

"Dan plays very fast and it's fun to watch," Spellman said. "It can be hard for a point guard that has a scoring mentality. I don't want to take his scoring away because we need it. But sometimes I want him to slow down, run some sets, and take some air out of the ball."

Because of his left-handed dribble, quickness, and moves, Majchrzak is very effective in fourth quarters when East Lyme is running a spread offense in an attempt to protect a lead. Few guards can check him one-on-one, and Majchrzak draws numerous fouls, leading to many free throws.

Majchrzak scored 34 points in East Lyme's early-season 96-92 overtime win over Waterford. In a perfect world, Spellman and Majchrzak agree, Majchrzak would score around 15 and average close to 10 assists, spreading the ball around to senior shooting forward Jon Nazarko, an All-State player who will end his career as East Lyme's second all-time leading scorer, and guard Angel Ortiz, a consistent double-figure scorer.

"When we share the ball, we're much tougher to defend," Spellman said.

Majchrzak averages less than 40 percent shooting accuracy from the field, so his shot selection and decision-making is at times questionable. He made a steal against Fitch and broke away for a layup, but instead of banking the ball in, he jumped high, drawing a shocked response from the crowd. He lost control of the ball and couldn't complete a dunk.

"I've dunked a couple of times in AAU games," Majchrzak said. "I was thinking about it, but I don't know what happened."

Spellman had no comment on the dunk, but he admired how his senior guard shook off a poor shooting night (7 points) to pass to open shooters, particularly Ortiz, who enjoyed a career night with seven 3-pointers and 26 points in the Vikings' key 63-48 win over Fitch Feb. 5.

"It depends who's hot," Majchrzak said. "If I'm hot, I'll take it to the hoop. I was looking for Angel tonight because he was hot. Jon is normally hot every night. It's definitely more a fun game when I get everyone involved and we're having fun on the court."

The Vikings, who have lost only to No. 2 ranked Stratford and once-beaten and No. 4 New London, look to make a strong showing in the ECC and Class L state tournaments. Majchrzak pines for another crack at New London in post-season play. The Whalers whipped East Lyme by 30 in January.

"I don't think New London has necessarily separated itself from us," he said. "We played them on their court after an emotional win and didn't show up. We lost by four to them in the ECC semis last year. This year, we're coming at them in the ECCs. We're only one game behind them so I don't think they've separated themselves from us."

You'd expect that type of confidence from the suburban kid with an inner-city game.


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