What the Clarke boys basketball team loses in senior leadership and height from a year ago, it hopes to replace with speed and intensity on both ends of the floor this winter.
The Indians lose experience and height, with five seniors who played a season ago gone from last season’s team, three of which were the top three scorers and four of whom were the top rebounders on last year’s 10-12 team.
With 15 on the varsity and 32 in the program, coach Jim Dingeman enters his first season at the helm of the program.
Ideally, Dingeman would like to play all 15 in some way shape or form in the opening stretch of the season and give each a chance to develop a role on varsity. Selflessness will be an important value for the 2017-2018 Indians.
“I’d like to play all 15 the first week if I can manage it, just to see how guys play and who gets hot and who steps up,” Dingeman said.
Utilizing that depth by pressing and causing chaos will be a likely reality for the team to start the season.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who are really good shooters, but they’re almost all guards. That can be a good thing and a bad thing,” Dingeman said. “We’ve got a good idea of how we’re going to guard teams bigger than us, but at the same time we’re hoping we’re going to be quicker than some of our teams.”
Zach Smith and Byron Rivera are returning seniors.
Cobey Robins and Lenny Peavy will help lead the backcourt, with Peavy set to begin playing after an eligibility issue is resolved sometime after the new year.
Bigger young players like Garrett Moore, Dalton Stubbe Deng Bulis and Sam Cooley will have to help pick things up in the rebounding department, as well the guards.
“I’m really looking for our guards to be really strong on the offensive boards this year and really attack that and try to make extra possessions and get extra shots,” Dingeman said.
The varsity will feature three sophomores, four freshmen and plenty of players who will need to see many more repetitions in practice and game situations before seeming comfortable on the court.
Last season, Clarke won four South Central Conference games. To improve upon that, more than a few Indians will have to step up.
The Indians are ready to embrace that challenge.
Lonnie Smith (who will be head varsity baseball coach) will be the junior varsity head coach and Damon Helgevold will take over as the freshman boys coach. Conner Duetsch, who was injured during football season, will be a player-coach with the program.
Clarke opens its season next Monday at home against Mount Ayr.