Coach Dave Chapman’s assessment of the coming season is the Englewood High School boys basketball team will be building a program starting from scratch.
“All last year’s varsity players graduated in June, I am a new coach,” Chapman said. “This year, we don’t have any tall players and all our guys have the skills to play guard so we will use a style of play that pushes the ball up the court quickly on offense and plays aggressive defense.”
The team saw its first action against an opponent in the Nov. 20 scrimmage against Skyline, a team they are likely to see again as they open the season Dec. 5 on the road at the Skyline Tournament.
The first home game of the year will be Dec. 11 against Ridgeview Academy. Home games are triple headers with the freshman game starting at 4 p.m., the junior varsity game at 5:30 and the varsity tipoff about 7:15. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students with school identification and a ticket is good for all three games.
Englewood’s players know Chapman because he has been the assistant varsity coach and head JV coach for several years. Chapman was then selected to fill the head coaching vacancy when former head coach Stu Howard retired at the end of last school year.
“We knew this season would be a challenge with no returning varsity starters which meant we had to change the way we play basketball,” the new coach said. “The last three years, Englewood had two big men in the middle and worked the ball into their post players. We don’t have any tall players this season so we will use a system built around the strengths of our current players. We have pretty good quickness and the guys handle the ball well. So, we’ll try to push the tempo, get up court quickly, looking for the high percentage shots.”
He said the players have been enthusiastic and have worked hard. Chapman has the Pirates play a shortened eight-game summer season and 25 players turned out for the practices and the games. That helped players get used to the style of play they will use when the season starts in December.
The coach said he does have some experienced players like Jared Lick, team captain, did see playing time in some games toward the end of last season and Tucker Horan who practices with the varsity last season but was sidelined most of the year with an ankle injury. The coach said Isiah Mestas, a move-in from Bear Creek, who is a point guard and will also help the team. He said it still is basically a young team with at least a couple sophomores on varsity and other JV players may move up from time to time to fill out the varsity roster.
“Our strength will be pushing the ball on offense and playing solid defense,” the coach said. “We are playing zone right now but are working on playing man-to-man and putting on a half-court press to try to force turnovers.”
The coach said the league schedule is basically and unknown.
“This is a new league and we’ll be playing most of these teams for the first time and know little about them,” Chapman said. “However, I expect Elizabeth will be strong. Elizabeth looked good last season and they were strong when we played them this summer.”
Team captain Jared Lick said basketball is his game. He said he doesn’t play any other sport and his focus year around is basketball.
“My strength is crashing the boards,” he said. “I hustle, get position and get the rebounds. I also can shoot pretty well from outside plus a lot of my points come from getting the offensive rebound and scoring on the put-back.”
He said he likes the new coach and knows him because Chapman coached him last season.
He said he knows this is a different system but he said he and his teammates are learning how to make it work smoothly.
“I know that I will be the post player this season even though I am not all that tall,” he said. “But I have no personal goals for scoring or rebounding this season and my focus all year will be doing all I can to help out team win games.”