Expectations high for talented, experienced Oshkosh North

Expectations high for talented, experienced Oshkosh North

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Expectations high for talented, experienced Oshkosh North

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A team coming off a state apperance last season. A team returning three starters and loads of bench depth from that team. A team bringing in a transfer who will have immediate impact.

Most would take a look at that and expect great things for the upcoming season, right?

Well, that’s just what stares the Oshkosh North Spartans boys basketball team in the face this season.

“We know we have high expectations,” junior Nate Neveau said. “We are going to embrace that. We are going to work hard every day in practice and get better.”

Spartans coach Frank Schade knows his team should be good, as well. He knows that the expectations are there for his teams.

But he also knows that things won’t always be perfect for Oshkosh North during the season.

“It’s a group of kids that, we are going to have some bumps in the road,” Schade said. “But it’s a group that is going to be tough to compete against.

“We have that same nucleus back and they know what they can achieve.”

Talented transfer

A few teams from around the state will benefit from a transfer player every season.

But how many can say that they got a transfer from a rival school in the same city?

In one of the more interesting developments around the city of Oshkosh in sports this year, North landed sophomore Blake Marquardt, who played for Oshkosh West as a freshman last year.

The pickup will undoubtedly pay dividends for the Spartans this season, as Marquardt presents a unique skill set that Schade hasn’t had in a player in awhile.

“What it gives us that we haven’t had in a long time is trailer that can shoot the ball,” he said. “He’s very adaptable to playing a guard, wing position as well as the post.”

What also helps is that Marquardt has already fit well with the other Spartans players, which could always be in question early in the season.

One thing is for sure, he will just be another thing opposing teams have to worry about when they play Oshkosh North.

“It’s just a great addition,” junior Cooper Radtke said. “He’s another big. A bigger body in there.”

Versatility

Offensively, the Spartans have just about everything.

A pass-first point guard who can get into the lane, finish at the rim and shoot the three in Neveau.

A big man who is equally adept with his back to the basket or facing up in Radtke.

A combo 3-4 man who can shoot the three but can also mix things up in the paint in Marquardt.

An adept 3-point shooting 2-guard who is there for kick outs and running off of screens in sophomore Nick Bauer.

Various other interchangeable parts that come off of the Spartans bench and provide any number of these things.

That’s scary for any opposing team to face.

“If we want to go big, we can go big,” Schade said. “If we want to go small, we can do that. I see a group that we could have a different starting lineup almost every week.”

What makes it even better for the Spartans is that if a team tries to take away one or the other, they always have someome else to go to. They feel as if opposing teams can’t stop it all.

“If they take one away, you have the other one,” Neveau said. “We’ve got great shooters on the outside. We feel we have seven or eight guys that can hit the three. We can get it inside to Coop (Radtke). We’ve got the whole package right now.”

No change

The biggest change that might come for the Spartans is on defense.

Last year, the Spartans primarily ran a trapping 1-3-1 zone with first-team all-Fox Valley Association player Izaiah Anderson and the lengthy Diing Deng at the top spot in the zone.

Both of those players have since graduated. But that doesn’t mean that Schade still won’t employ that defense.

“We will be a lot of 1-3-1,” he said. “We also have the opportunity to change up a bit in our 1-3-1.”

But with the versatility in the size of lineups that Schade can throw on the floor, the Spartans will also be doing some full-court pressing and playing man-to-man.

The players know that they could be switching things up from time to time and are prepared for it.

“We just need to be prepared for any defense,” Bauer said. “Man, zone, press.”

But they still also know that they will still be playing plenty of Oshkosh North’s patented 1-3-1.

“Our zone has kind of been our strong suit in the past,” Neveau said. “If we continue to play it well and give people trouble with it, we’ll stick with it.”

Better bench

One thing that you could maybe have been slightly critical of on last year’s Spartans team was a lack of offensive production from the bench. After the first five, production dropped off significantly in Schade’s eight-man rotation.

The good news for this year’s team, however, as that most of those same guys — like Alex Madden, Elliot Dyer and Turner Geisthardt — are back with a year under their belt and should be able to give Oshkosh North a better kick coming off the bench.

“I think that the bench that we have right now, some of those kids played last year,” Schade said. “They have that experience and I thought this summer every player improved at each position.”

It’s imperative that the Spartans get something out of their bench as Schade’s defensive system requires plenty of subsitutions throughout the game.

“Sometimes, with the way we play it, less becomes more,” Schade said. “You might get less minutes. There are teams where the best players seldom come off the floor. Our best players come off the floor a lot.”

If they are able to go to their bench and not have too much of a dropoff offensively, the Spartans could be looking at quite the season.

Marching towards March

Programs often set goals before a season starts.

For some it’s a state title or an appearances. Others it’s conference titles or winning seasons.

Schade has a different, yet simple approach when it comes to the Spartans goal for this and every season: how well are they playing come March.

“Our goals never changes and it’s been for the 37 years that I have coached: we want to be a very good team come March,” he said. “If it takes losses, it takes losses. If it takes some winning streaks, it’ll happen.

“If conference championships come, they come. It’s never been that important to me. For basketball it’s, no matter what your record is, how good are you in March.”

It’s a sentiment that Schade has instilled in the Spartans, who seemed to have taken it to heart.

“Our motto this year is just keep getting better throughout the year,” Radtke said. “Regardless of what happens through the season, we are going to get better and play whoever we face each week.”

If they do keep getting better, it’ll definitely lead to another good season on the North side of Oshkosh.

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