The Shawnee boys basketball team is in rare territory this season. Of the 11 players with significant varsity time last season, 10 will be making their return. The only player that the Wolves lost was senior Timmy Young.
“There are a lot of times where I've always looked at a roster right before game day and go 'Wow. We have two guys with varsity experience.' so this is really weird when you have 10 guys with varsity experience coming back,” coach Ron Arthur said.
This time around, they are stacked to the brim with experienced upperclassmen that partook in a deep playoff run that saw them drop off in the first round of the state tournament.
If they were still Class 5A, they would almost certainly be a favorite to make it back to state and possibly even win it all. Unfortunately the team will move into 6A once postseason play begins to make that return a little more difficult.
The boys played hard and fast last year and this should be no different. And with everything they have working in their favor, coach Ron Arthur won't accept anything other than their best.
“Because you have so much experience, you almost expect those guys to be near-perfect, well I don't think it's 'almost,' you do expect them to be near-perfect,” Arthur said.
One thing the team needs to work on a bit more is valuing their possessions on offense and not turning it back over once they come up with a takeaway.
“If you do a good job defensively and you get a steal or you get a stop, or a rebound and throw it back to the other team, well you just wasted everything you've just done,” Arthur said.
Seniors Carson Meier, Shaun Willis, Chase Morris and Cody Parman have been working with their few underclassmen a little bit in the gym to get them prepared for the season and future while the rest of the guys were out for football.
“We're going to have to get them ready, because you never know when you might need them,” Arthur said.
Juniors AJ Howard and California transfer DeAndre Love are two of those players that will be getting some varsity time this year in preparation for the 2018-2019 season. Arthur said that Love has a basketball body and good skills and is looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the table in the future.
“He can play inside and we can put him on the outside as well... He's got to get acclimated to the system and try to figure out what we do both on the offensive and defensive side,” Arthur said.
For Arthur, the challenge will be in figuring out match-ups from game to game with the intent of a playoff run the final result he's looking for.
Figuring out how much time each player gets and what the rotation should look like along with who would be best matched up against who will be a struggle, but the Wolves have different routes to take as needed.
“We can go into a game and if we need to play bigger we can play bigger. If we need to play smaller we can play smaller,” he said.
Th Wolves open up their season Tuesday, November 28. The girls game starts at 6:30 and the boys will begin shortly after.