Ask St. Cloud Technical High School coach Mike Trewick about his team and his deadpan answer also happens to be right on the mark.
“I wish I knew more about my team than I do,” Trewick said. “We have a lot of young guys and a lot of new guys.”
Tech plays at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Apollo in a renewal of the boys basketball rivalry.
Question Apollo High school coach Dean Kesler about his squad and he sounds a lot like Trewick.
“I think we’re in the same boat,” Kesler said of the Eagles and the Tigers. “We’re trying to figure out what we can do and what we can’t do and trying to get our rotation figured out.
“It’s kind of the life of early season basketball.”
Tech is 2-0 in the Central Lakes Conference and 2-2 overall. The Tigers’ familiar names are Jake Martig and Darren Anderson. Martig is a returning starter. Anderson, also a senior, has been a key contributor, Trewick said, explaining strategy and helping newer players learn the system.
Other new starters for the Tigers are Jake Mussman, James Kaczor and Brevyn Spann-Ford. Rauch Chuol and Max Plombon are also part of what has been a seven-man rotation for the Tigers.
Mussman, a 6-foot-6 forward, has been a big scorer. He, Martig and Anderson are Tech’s only seniors.
Mussman, a starter in football for Tech, is a transfer from Grand Forks, North Dakota, where he was one of the top juniors in the state. Kaczor and Spann-Ford are freshmen. Spann-Ford, like Mussman, was a big contributor on the football team. He’s a transfer from Sauk Rapids.
Chuol is a 6-foot-2 sophomore and a transfer from Nebraska. Plombon is a junior.
Trewick said he has a very athletic team, probably the most physically talented the Tigers have been since the Nate Wolters era, which ended in 2009. Wolters, of course, is playing for the Milwaukee Bucks these days.
Tech’s wins are over Sauk Rapids (76-56) and Willmar (69-50). The losses were at the Monticello Thanksgiving Tournament, to Chisago Lakes (46-38) and Monticello (63-55).
“Both of us are trying to figure things out,” Kesler said. “Mike knows how to make it work.
“He does a great job. He’ll have them rolling soon.”
Apollo is 1-1 in the conference and 2-2 overall. The Eagles have wins over Delano (58-47) and Alexandria (57-56). The losses are to Chisago Lakes (62-54) and Brainerd (53-37).
The Eagles have been going 10 deep in games. Kesler said they could go 14 if there was enough time to work them all in.
Returning starters are Cole Johnson and Ethan Novacinski. Johnson is a 6-2 junior; Novacinski is a 6-6 junior. They start up front with Jack Atkinson, a 6-4 senior center.
The backcourt has featured sophomore Joey Atkinson (Jack’s brother) and junior Dauryce Taylor. Senior John Quinlan has been the sixth man. Kesler considers him a starter.
Seniors Wes McDonnell and Logan Louangsyharaj, junior Ben Giese and sophomore Luke Dunsmoor, who is 6-4, also have seen key playing time.
“Ethan Novacinski is a pretty good player who’s been around for three or four years now,” Trewick said. “He’s one of the toughest guys around in the conference.
“And Cole Johnson, when he’s hot, is as good a shooter in our league as you’ll see.”
Trewick said Kesler does a good job of sorting out his players and getting them to play hard.
“We’ve been up and down,” Kesler said. “I think we’ve been a pretty good defensive team over the years and once these guys figure out how to get it done on the defensive end, we’ll be OK.
“For whatever reason, we always seem to start out slow and wind up playing our best basketball at the end of the season.”
That’s what Kesler hopes the 2014-15 Eagles will be doing in February. Trewick has similar aspirations for his team.
“I always tell the guys that this is one of those games that you should be excited about,” Kesler said of playing Tech. “They all have played with and against each other coming up (the youth basketball ranks).”
CLC wide open
Kesler said he believed the Central Lakes Conference will be very balanced this season. Teams that struggled last season, like Sauk Rapids and Rocori, both are improved. The rest of the league seems very equal.
“I think the conference champ could have six or seven losses,” Kesler said. “Whoever wins their home games and splits on the road will probably win it.”
Rocori head football coach Mike Rowe was on the sidelines Sunday for the Minnesota Vikings’ 30-24 overtime win over the New York Jets.
A number of folks with Rocori ties had some sideline access because of Jets receiver Eric Decker, a Rocori and Minnesota alumnus.
That wasn’t the case for Rowe.
“Eric had nothing to do with it,” he said, adding: “He had a good day.”
Rowe had access because his team helped sell tickets to the game, with $10 per seat going to Rocori football.
Rowe said his access was limited to a small area. He got to see the Jets’ offensive and defensive lines prepare for Sunday’s game at TCF Bank Stadium up close.
“You’re just amazed at the size of some of these guys,” he said. “I was kidding around with some of the people I was with about what we could do at Rocori with a line like that.”
Rowe said he didn’t get to talk to Decker, but it was his first experience on an NFL sideline. The speed and skill of the athletes is what impressed most.
He also had to leave because Rocori’s football banquet was Sunday night at the Blue Heron in Cold Spring. Some 300 people attended. Alex Budde was named team offensive MVP and Jack Feldhege was the Spartans’ defensive MVP, as voted on by the players.
Holt, UMD do well
McKenzie Holt, a freshman from St. Cloud Christian, was part of the Minnesota-Duluth women’s cross country team that finished third in the nation in NCAA Division II on Saturday.
Holt placed 133rd with a time of 23 minutes 48.3 seconds on the 5.78-kilometer course. Four teammates who finished ahead of her earned All-American honors on the extremely muddy course in Louisville, Kentucky.
Grand Valley State won the national title. Hillsdale was second. Three other NSIC teams also did well: Augustana was fifth and Wayne State was sixth, and Winona State took 17th of 32 teams.
Follow Tom Elliott on Twitter @sctimestom or call 259-3661.