With a dearth of big men fit to begin the 2013 campaign for the boys’ varsity basketball, small ball will serve as a major theme for Wolverines team as it begins the new campaign.
Both injuries and exits have hammered the basketball team’s post presence as compared to last season. With the graduation of leading rebounders Dave Winfield ’13 and 2012 Big Red Male Athlete of the Year Chad Kanoff ’13, and 6’6 Sam Weintraub ’14, 6’8 Nick Medavoy ’16, and 6’6 Daniel Schrier ’17 all down with injury, Derick Newton ’14 will be the team’s main option down low, though he normally tends to drive or create jumpshots off the dribble.
“You deal with adversity in sports and sometimes it adds up,” Hilliard said. “Medavoy and Weintraub have not played basketball since February or March of last year, and even if they get back in time for the season, we’ll have to bring them along gradually.”
“We’ll play an all guard lineup to start the season, most likely,” Hilliard continued. “As I was talking to Newton about, sometimes the 6’5 guy has to play in the post because he’s the biggest guy we’ve got. It’s not comfortable for anyone, everyone gets rotated a little bit out of their comfort zone. If everybody buys in and does that, I don’t know if we can compensate, but we can get by until everyone’s healthy.”
Newton, the team’s leading scorer last season, will return to fulltime regular play for the Wolverines after battling his own injuries last season. Newton went down with a shoulder injury at the beginning of Mission League play last season and missed a total of 17 games over the course of last season. Newton’s play, which included several 30-point games last season and a 21-point game in his return from injury against Laguna Beach, has been hampered by upper body injuries throughout his varsity career.
“He looks really good right now and he’s been working really hard,” Hilliard said. “When you look at it literally, he’s been here three years and only played one, his sophomore year. He played no games his freshman year, played a full season sophomore year, and last year missed seventeen. So he’s trying to make up for lost times, and he’s very healthy right now.”
The team will also face the issue of player inexperience. Without Weintraub and Medavoy, only four players enter the season healthy with previous varsity experience – Newton, Mike Sheng ’14, Bryan Polan ’14 and Alex Copeland ’15. The Wolverines lost three players to transfer as well as graduation.
“It would be like an extra large senior class graduation,” Hilliard said. “You have to bring up the young guys you’ve been working on and developing maybe a year earlier than what you had in the master plan, but sometimes they rise to the occasion, and that’s what they’re hoping for this year. Some of the young guys are really, really good, and their physical development is the only thing that isn’t there yet. The rising ninth graders are one of the deepest, strongest classes we’ve had since 2010.”
Last season, the Wolverines were eliminated in the third round of the CIF Playoffs in a 78-58 defeat to Bishop Montgomery. The team, which went 16-11 last season, will begin their season with the Santa Monica tournament Dec. 2, and start league play Jan. 8 against Crespi.