The simple things are high on Eaton’s priority list.
Sixth-year coach Denny Shepherd has set goals for his boys basketball team, including winning the rebounding war, having less turnovers and a higher percentage in the paint.
“I’m optimistic that we’ll play much better than last year,” Shepherd said.
Three seniors top the Eagles’ roster in Matt Sullender, Garrett Eiler and Brandon George. Eiler is 6-foot-3 and Sullender and George are both 6-2.
Juniors Trey Smith and Braydon Waggoner, both 6-4, are expected contributors, as is fellow classmate Damon Willard, along with 6-5 sophomore Trace Couch and 6-1 sophomore Trevor Pittman.
“I think our size and strength has improved and that should help us,” Shepherd said.
“You can’t teach size and athleticism. Just going into game, if you have that it naturally helps you with rebounding. A lot of our games last year, we would be close in the fourth and when we needed that stop, we’d give up the offensive rebound. We will be the team coming out in the rebounding edge in those games.”
Eaton finished 2-21 a year ago, 0-10 in the SWBL Southwestern Division.
“We definitely want to improve on our win-loss,” Shepherd said. “We’ll just try not to make it (goals) based on wins and losses, but on individual progression.”
Shepherd has seen that progression already in the Eagles’ scrimmages.
Eaton has faced Edgewood, Miamisburg and Madison in preseason outings.
“Things are looking good,” Shepherd said. “A lot of that has to do with our size and our athleticism that we were kind of lacking last year.”
Eaton opens tonight in the first round of the two-day Twin Valley South Panther Tip-off tournament.
The Eagles’ first home game is Dec. 9 vs. Preble Shawnee. Eaton’s initial league game is Dec. 12 against Bellbrook.
Shepherd counts Bellbrook among the contenders at the top of the SWBL Southwestern Division, as well as Franklin, which features Luke Kennard. Kennard has signed to play basketball at Duke.
Tonight’s game at TVS is a good opener, Shepherd said.
“They are always tough,” he said.
“We’re just looking forward to getting started here and seeing what we can do.”
Josh Chapin: (765) 973-4463 email@example.com or twitter.com/JoshChapinPI
EATON EAGLES AT A GLANCE
Head coach: Denny Shepherd, sixth year
Assistants: Randy McKinney, Clayton Genth
Last season: 2-21, 0-10
Key Losses: Erik Hoke
Key returnees: Matt Sullender
Exclamation points: Eagles have more size and athleticism and have shown progress in preseason.
Question marks: Who will rise up to be a reliable force on the court and make the big shots?
•Matt Sullender 6-2, guard
•Garrett Eiler 6-3, post/forward
•Brandon George 6-2, forward
•Trey Smith 6-4, guard/forward
•Braydon Waggoner 6-4, post/forward
•Damon Willard 5-7, guard
Trace Couch 6-5, guard/forward
Trevor Pittman 6-1, guard
• Friday-Saturday: at Twin Valley South Tip-Off
• Dec. 9: Preble Shawnee
• Dec. 12: Bellbrook*
• Dec. 13: at Talawanda
• Dec. 16: at Lemon Monroe*
• Dec. 19: at Oakwood*
• Dec. 27: Ross
• Jan. 6: Brookville*
• Jan. 9: at Carlisle
• Jan. 13: Carroll
• Jan. 16: at Valley View*
• Jan. 20: Lemon Monroe*
• Jan. 23: Oakwood*
• Jan. 27: Franklin*
• Jan. 30: at Brookville*
• Feb. 3: Arcanum
• Feb. 6: Valley View*
• Feb. 7: at Greenville
• Feb. 13: at Franklin*
• Feb. 17: at National Trail
• Feb. 20: at Bellbrook*
*—SWBL Southwestern Division game