Times Sports Editor
The boys' basketball season tips off this week with the Northview Knights taking on Vincennes Lincoln the evening before Thanksgiving with a 6 p.m. junior varsity start time.
The Knights will have a different look this season as graduation claimed the top-three scorers from last season and overall, seven of last year's varsity members have moved on. Included in that group were double-digit scorers Trent Lancaster (18 ppg.) and Caleb Mershon (10.7 ppg.) and Jacob Musgrave (7.1 ppg., 5.8 rpg.).
While there will be plenty to replace, coach Ernie Maesch welcomes in some improved size that includes four players listed at 6'4 or taller on the varsity roster. Also returning is starting point guard Dillon Reynolds (7.1 ppg., 2.0 assists per game) along with Damon Hyatt, who gives the team another ball handler as well as an athletic, defensive spark.
While the Knights lost quite a bit of its former offensive experience, Maesch feels that the team will be okay in that regard after seeing his team's scrimmage against Princeton.
"I think we have guys that can make a lot of shots. We have guys that can drive it and I think we have us some guys that can score in the post," Maesch said. "What we have to do is be patient with all of that. When you don't have that 18 points per game scorer, every guy thinks that's him so too many guys are shooting it quickly. At times today we probably did that, we were too impatient and we just needed to run the offense a bit more and get something better. I think we played hard. I think Princeton plays really hard and they are a team that will get better as well."
One area that the Knights need someone to step up in is the perimeter shooting as graduation claimed its top-two long range threats in Lancaster and Mershon. Gone from last year are 99 of the team's total of 123 made 3-pointers. Reynolds is the only player that returns having hit more than 10 3-pointers last year (17). Hyatt made seven of his 21 attempts. Reynolds hit at a high rate as he knocked down better than 40 percent from behind the arc
The post production should get a shot in the arm this season as several younger players got meaningful minutes last year in preparation for this season.
Chance Talbot (6'2, 200 lbs.) shot 53 percent from the field his junior season and gives the Knights a physical presence in the paint again. He'll be joined by fellow seniors Jacob Ninesling (6'4, 200 lbs.), who averaged four points and better than two rebounds per contest last year. Bryant Pestoff is another space eater with a 6'4, 250 lbs. build that should give Northview more depth at the forward position. The sophomore class provides even more depth with a pair of 6'5 players in Ethan Whitson and Daniel Kimball.
With a frontcourt that can go more than five deep, Maesch believes it can be a valuable weapon against opposing teams.
"I told our 'bigs' that they have to play incredibly hard and give me everything they've got for three or four minutes so I can give them a break and put more guys in there because you can really wear teams out that way," Maesch said. "That being said however, every guy that goes in there has to know what he's supposed to do on both ends of the court. If they don't, then I can't put them in there. We have some guys right now, on the perimeter and inside, that are a little bit behind and they are still playing catch up. I think they'll be a big part of what we're doing right now and in the future."
Losing seven experienced players is never easy to replace, but the Knights will be looking to a five-man senior class to provide the intangibles that Maesch feels are the key to success every year.
"I need Dillon (Reynolds) and Damon (Hyatt) to be leaders first," Maesch said of the seniors. Scoring is second. I need them to get us in an offense, get us in the correct defense, get us in the press offense, get everyone where they are supposed to be. Then after that, score. I will just keep harping on leadership because it all starts with senior leadership and ends with senior leadership. In 20 to 30 years, it's going to be the class of 2012 did whatever. There will be other guys contribute, but it starts with the seniors and it's valuable that they become vocal leaders."
Northview Varsity basketball schedule
|Nov. 23||vs. Vincennes Lincoln||7:30 p.m.|
|Dec. 2||at T.H. North||7:30 p.m.|
|Dec. 3||vs. Brown County||7:30 p.m.|
|Dec. 9||at West Vigo||7:30 p.m.|
|Dec. 10||vs. Evansville Central||8 p.m.|
|Dec. 16||at Edgewood||6 p.m.|
|Dec. 27-29||Pizza Hut Classic||10 a.m.|
|Jan. 6||vs. Owen Valley||6:30 p.m.|
|Jan. 13||at T.H. South||7:30 p.m.|
|Jan. 14||at Mooresville||7:30 p.m.|
|Jan. 17||at Bloomington North||7:30 p.m|
|Jan. 20||vs. South Vermillion||7:30 p.m.|
|Jan. 25||vs. Greenwood||7:30 p.m.|
|Jan. 27||at Sullivan||6 p.m.|
|Feb. 4||vs. Plainfield||7:30 p.m.|
|Feb. 9||at South Putnam||7:30 p.m.|
|Feb. 11||vs. Monrovia||2:30 p.m.|
|Feb. 14||vs. Greencastle||7:30 p.m.|
|Feb. 17||at Clay City||8 p.m.|