|Jays welcome in top-ranked Redskins; Wildcats try to weather the storm|
|Friday, January 25, 2013 1:51 PM|
St. John’s boys basketball coach hopes his Blue Jays can keep up the good play that has marked their recent climb to 9-3; they will need to do so tonight as they welcome in Division III’s top-ranked St. Henry to The Vatican.
ST. JOHN’S/ST. HENRY
“I like the pace and tempo we’ve been playing with offensively, how we’ve been playing crisp and clean. We’re not turning the ball over and executing our offense very well,” he asserted. “The same thing defensively; outside of a couple of games, I like how we’ve been defending people despite giving up some size generally. We’ve also been solid on the boards and that helps us play with a better tempo offensively.”
The Jays trot out a starting five of seniors Curtis Geise — who needs 10 points to break the 1,000-point barrier — Ryan Buescher and Seth Bockey and juniors Eric Clark and Ryan Koester. Off the bench have been senior Cole Fischbach and a trio of sophomores: Andy Grothouse, Evan Hays and Tyler Conley.
Elwer also knows what the Redskins, who come in tied with the Jays atop the MAC at 4-0 and a 14-1 mark overall, bring to the table.
“Defensively, they change things a lot, so you have to spend the week really preparing well. They may not do a lot but it’s constant change from their base man-to-man to zones, especially 1-3-1 in the 1/4-court. They don’t extend it a lot from what we’ve seen.”
Due to injuries to starters Ross Thompson (junior) and Nick Fitch (sophomore) and the loss of junior Jordon Williams (back home in California), the varsity lineup now includes two seniors, two juniors and two freshmen.
“I have been involved in coaching for 15 years and have seen a lot of things but I haven’t seen anything like this, good or bad. Two of those guys: Ross (6.9 points, 9.5 caroms per game) and Nick (5.1 counters, 6.2 caroms); are starters and Jordon was our sixth man, so half of our top six are gone,” Smith noted. “We’ve had to bring up a freshman, Dalton Hicks, who was a junior varsity player three weeks ago. We basically are going to play six guys; we don’t want to rush the others we could bring up and possibly ruin their confidence. We just have to hope that we don’t lose anyone else.”
Smith will be asking a lot out of Hicks (1.7 markers, 3.6 boards): seniors Zach Ricker (8.7, 3.2) and Seth Wollenhaupt (.2 markers); juniors Austin Jettinghoff (5.1 points, 2.7 assists) and Tyler Mox (1.4 points); and freshman Trey Smith (14.4 counters, 4.0 rebounds); for a unit averaging 41.8 points and ceding 53.2.
At this point and in these conditions, what the Panthers (11-3, 3-1 after an upset win over Crestview Friday) do is really not Smith’s concern.
“We do have a scouting report and we shared it with the kids last night. They’ve got some good payers, like Foor and Kawser, and they are big and athletic; they go 11 deep as well,” Smith added. “On paper, we are overmatched; I don’t think that is wrong to say. All we can do at this point is focus on what we can control because there are so many things we can’t, like injuries. We want to compete hard for four quarters. This is why I, as a coach, am more process-oriented than results-oriented.
“Our goal which such a young and inexperienced team is to put the kids in positions where they can do well and where they are comfortable when they are playing positions they aren’t comfortable in. We want them to play hard for four quarters, be coachable and learn from what goes on every play. We go from Paulding Friday to playing at a very good Arlington squad Saturday, so it’s going to be difficult.”
Jefferson tips off tonight with the junior varsity at 6 p.m.; the Jays at 6:30.