Losing eight seniors is a tough pill to swallow even for a squad like the Valders boys basketball team.
Gone from last season are the Vikings’ top four scorers, including reigning Herald Times Reporter Boys Basketball Athlete of the Year Drew Binversie.
In his place are a pair of juniors, Forest Fenlon and Zach Goedeke, who combined to average roughly 12 points per game on a senior-laden team.
Valders coach Ron Nesper is well aware of the pitfalls losing such an experienced group of players can bring to a team.
“Game smarts, that’s what we need plain and simple,” said Nesper. “Our guys have to have a high basketball IQ this season and pretty early on. We’ll be feeling our way through for the first few games of the season since it can take a while for a team to gel.”
The Vikings program has had a string of seven straight seasons with no fewer than 16 wins since the 2004-05 squad went 12-10. This will give the Valders players confidence knowing years of upheaval have come and gone without a significant drop in performance.
Nesper is most worried about how his team handles their defensive responsibilities.
“We’re going to throw the kitchen sink sort of offensively,” Nesper said. “With this many new players we’ll try a little bit of everything until we see what works.”
Offensively, Nesper is looking towards his post players, especially Goedeke and fellow junior Jon Shimon, who at 6-6 and 6-4, respectively, are the tallest players on the Vikings roster.
To exploit the height of Goedeke and Shimon, Nesper will run a flex motion offense which is based upon a heavy inside-out game where the post players kick the ball out to the guards once the defense commits.
“Our offense will be predicated on how fell our bigs can get the ball in the hands of the shooters,” Nesper added. “They (the post players) have to be ready and willing to dish the ball the moment the defense collapses on them.”
That’s not to say Goedeke or Shimon won’t be expected to provide some scoring punch if guards like Fenlon are having an off night. Nesper feels the offense will come together the further the season progresses as players become more comfortable hitting open shots when they’re available.
“We have to value every possession,” Nesper said. “Every single possession will be precious to us as the team continues to come together.”
If the team does gel as fast as Nesper hopes, the Vikings can’t be counted out to win at least 17 games for the sixth straight year while Valders terrorizes the Olympian conference.