Thursday, November 23, 2000
Hayden Matt Ray believes the Hayden boys basketball team has a chance to compete with the top teams in the conference. How competitive the Tigers are will hinge on how well they play as a team.
Last season, the second-year coach at times felt the players competed as individuals rather than as a cohesive team. The team was led by seniors Levi Klapperich and Matt Weidner, who combined to score the majority of the Tigers' points.
"Last year there were times in games when we got away from the team aspect," Ray said.
This year's team will consist of a senior-dominated squad that will be without two talented players from a year ago.
Starters who return this year are seniors Keith Bell, Matt Miner and Kevin Harris. Ray expects seniors Matt Walden and Aaron Alpe to round out the starting lineup.
"It is great to have senior leadership," he said. "It has shown up in practice, and hopefully it will show up in games."
Ray expects for his team to play an up-tempo game with a lot of pressure defense.
"We will be doing a lot of running," he said.
Still, Rolando believes the success the team will have this season will really depend on the willingness of the players to work together.
"They will have to work as a team if we want to go where we want to go," he said. "I have been stressing teamwork every day in practice.
"If you do not have five guys working together, you are not going to go anywhere. Teamwork is the biggest thing we need to focus on."
Ray is expecting the bench to play a key role. He expects to get strong minutes from seniors Adam Reck, Billy Hinkle, junior Chris Gullett, sophomore Alan Lighthizer and freshman Dustin Driscoll.
So far, the young Driscoll has made an impression on the coaching staff.
"He has worked so hard," Ray said. "He has a great work ethic."
Last year, Hayden finished 5-5 in the conference. Ray expects West Grand and Grand Valley to be tough in 2000. He also believes North Park will be a squad to contend with.
"If we play as a team, we will be right there at the top," he said. "If we don't play as a team, we will finish somewhere near the bottom."
Ray and the players are looking forward to their first test of the season against Baggs, Wyo. Junior varsity tipoff is set for 5 p.m. Dec. 1. The varsity is expected to take the court at 6:30 p.m.
"We have really had some good practices," he said. "But I look forward to seeing how we play against an opponent."