St. Charles North will operate with much of the same personnel it did last year (minus big man Kyle Nelson, who moved on to Lewis University), but there is one major difference for the North Stars.
“We’re really stressing conditioning early on,” head coach Tom Poulin said. “For the past couple seasons, we focused on getting every single offensive set or defensive call installed instead of making sure we were ready to compete physically. If you’re not in shape, you’re not going to be able to finish ball games.”
Practices now start with fitness stations, which include medicines balls, jump ropes, speed ladders and agility ladders. Poulin has his team running sprints at the beginning, middle and end of practice. This season, fitness comes first.
“You have to work before you touch the ball,” Poulin said.
Outside of the emphasis on conditioning, not much is different. Quinten Payne, Tony Neari and Kyle Swanson all started last season, while Alec Goetz, Chris Preocanin, Justin Stanko, Matt Pretet and Ryan Thomas all saw significant time as reserves. They all return this season.
“We have a lot of guys coming back who know what we do and how we do it,” Poulin said. “The guys did a good job picking up some of the changes we made over the summer.”
The biggest changes come on the offensive end, where the North Stars have put more emphasis on getting the ball to their playmakers in better positions to score the ball.
“Our half-court offense is more geared toward unselfish team play, taking what the defense gives us and putting our primary scorers in position to be more successful,” Poulin said.
Guards Jake Ludwig and Erik Miller and forward Jack Callaghan arrive from the sophomore team to bolster the depth. Ludwig and Callaghan add depth at guard, while Miller can double as a guard or forward.
“Erik is pure athlete and he plays to win,” Poulin said. “He goes out there and competes like its his last game.”
Poulin expects the Upstate Eight River schedule to be tough, just like it was last year, but he and his team wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The River is going to be real competitive, but that’s what makes it a lot of fun,” he said.
At a glance
COACH Tom Poulin2011-12 RECORD 13-16 TOP PLAYERS Alec Goetz jr. G Tony Neari sr. G Quinten Payne sr. G/F Chris Preocanin sr. C Matt Pretet sr. F Justin Stanko sr. F Kyle Swanson sr. F Ryan Thomas sr. C
16.9 Average points per game for Quinten Payne last season. The Loyola recruit also grabbed 5.8 rebounds and dished 3.1 assists per game in a season in which he was named Upstate Eight River all-conference.
FIRST GAME Monday, Nov. 19, vs. East Aurora at St. Charles East invite, 7:15 p.m.