LEMONT – Many faces on the court this winter for the Lemont boys basketball team will look vastly different from a year ago, when the squad posted a record of 23-4.
But the relative lack of experience on the Indians’ roster doesn’t mean that the sky is falling.
“I’m excited, but in a different way,” Lemont coach Rick Runaas said. “Of course you are always hoping to be successful with wins and losses, but I’m a little more tempered in regards to that. I’m excited to see how it works out and how they come together and I believe it will.”
One reason for optimism is the return of Mike Wisz, who averaged 14.9 points per game a year ago to go along with 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 steals.
“He’s bigger and stronger and we are expecting great things,” Runaas said. “We’ve actually put in a new set and I named it after him. He said shouldn’t we name it something else, that other teams will know it is coming to him. And I told him, ‘Every coach knows we are going to try to get you the ball so get used to it.’”
Luis Marquez, David Czupta and Ben Groselak also return to the team, but they saw limited minutes in 2012-13.
Groselak especially will see his role increase as he takes over the point guard position from last year’s leading scorer, Juozas Balciunas.
“Ben is an outstanding young man,” the coach said. “He understands he is not Juozas and he is OK with that. But he can be successful in his own way.”
A high scoring team a year ago, Lemont might have to change things around this winter.
“It’s interesting, we may have to slow down the tempo at times,” the coach said. “I don’t like to do that, but we may have to.”
One thing that shouldn’t be lacking is confidence, especially after the success that the Indians have had over the previous two seasons.
“I think the success the last few years has been beneficial in the sense that it has brought more confidence to the program,” Runaas said. “A lot of our success this year will be based on our ability to handle pressure. That’s the benefit of having an outstanding point guard the last couple of years, he took care of a lot of that by himself.”
As for specific goals, Runaas doesn’t believe in going that route, so the Indians will just take it as it comes.
“Even last year and the year before, we’ve never really done that,” he said. “It’s not something I do. We go game-by-game and the expectations and goals are to play hard every day, compete and represent our school to the best of our ability.”