When basketball fans and coaches look out upon the floor, they expect to see a few tall players. But the St. Vincent basketball team will lack a few of those this season.
Of the nine players on the roster, none of them are above 6-1,’ The Indians graduated all their height and post presence from the seven member senior class. They had several taller players last season including 6’ 5” Luke Wibbenmeyer.
“We aren’t going to be very tall,” Coach Bruce Valleroy said. “We are going to have to do a lot of things well when it comes to the games against teams that have an inside presence. We will have to work our butts off and compete. We can’t let our height be a negative.”
The Indians went 17-7 last season after losing to Valle Catholic in the district tournament. They want to keep the upward arc moving in the right direction and to do this they will rely on three returning starters.
Matt Rellergert, Evan Clifton and Trevor Lukefahr return as reliable presences.
Clifton and Lukefahr were both first-team all-conference picks last year and averaged 12.0 and 11.4 points per game and will lead an offense that will look to run the ball up and down the floor at a fast pace.
“We will have to get it out and go,” Valleroy said. “We have speed and quickness and we are going to have to use all those strengths to off set our height disadvantage.”
The Indians will supplement those graduation losses with a bunch of younger players that saw success at the JV level. The Indians junior varsity team went 19-2 last season.
Garrett Dobbelare, Isaac Ernst and Dylan Grim all started for the football team this fall and with look to fill the roles on the basketball team left behind by the departing seniors.
“The key is to take a good shot and that is what made us so successful last season,” Valleroy said.”
The Indians shoot the three-pointer at a high clip and hope that will help put points on the board, especially against taller teams. But the key is to play enough defense when those triples aren’t falling on a specific day.
“There will be games when teams will just be bigger and taller than us and we know that,” Valleroy said. “We just have to go play. That’s kind of the slogan of the year, is just to go play and not let those things bother us.”
Defensively, the Indians will look to mix up the defenses depending on the opponent that night.
“We will play many defense, like we have in the past,” Valleroy said. “We will play man or zone or even press. It is depending on what the situation is or who the opponent is and what the feel is in the game.”
While his team is able to score close to 80 points in some games this season, as evidence of the first game of the jamboree, Valleroy doesn’t want to get into many shootouts.
“I don’t want the games to be 80-70,” Valleroy said. “If we can, I want them to be 80-50 or something like that. Defense will be a focus of this year, especially with our height we are going to have to do all the small things on the defensive end to keep up with the bigger teams.”
The Indians won their first conference title since 2007 last season and it is the expectation again this season.
“We got a taste of it last season,” Valleroy said. “We want to be competitive in every game. That means districts too, but it will be tough with Oran, the Class 2 champs in our district. But we host them again this season so it would be nice to put on a good show at home. But we will let the chips fall where they may.”