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CANNELTON—Cannelton’s boys basketball team won’t be quite as quick as last year but should have better shooting and more size and versatility, said Coach Brian Garrett.
Last year 6-foot-3 Chase Gerber was the Bulldogs’ only varsity player over 6-foot-1.
This year they have 6-foot-5 senior Bobby Roberts and 6-3 junior T.J. James among their top seven players.
That doesn’t necessarily mean both will start all the time, as Garrett said his lineup will vary depending on the opponent and who’s been playing well in practice.
“I could go with five guards at times,” Garrett said Thursday. “I could run five shooters out there (if opponents are collapsing their defense inside).”
Garrett said senior guards Tyler Aud and Justin Dooley and 6-foot senior forward Dillon Powers are his only certain starters.
He said “the other two spots are up for grabs” among James, sophomore guard Cody Lawalin, junior swingman Ethan Herzog and Roberts.
Aud led the 9-12 Bulldogs in scoring at 17.5 points per game last year. He averaged 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game and hit 32.1 percent of his three-point shots.
Dooley averaged 8.4 points and 2.2 steals per game.
Powers, a part-time starter last year, averaged 6.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
With 12 players for the combined varsity and JV roster, the Bulldogs will have only seven full-time varsity players.
But Garrett hopes to work some of the JV players, particularly Spencer Herzog and Charlie Northener, into the varsity rotation to give the team more depth.
He said the team’s shooting “at times looks good,” though the team spent the majority of its off-season workouts on weightlifting “trying to get stronger.”
He said the team has more shooters than last year, though, with the addition of Lawalin to the varsity rotation. He was the top three-pointer shooter on the JV team last year.
The Bulldogs are “not quite as quick as last year but we’re still quick,” said Garrett. “I’d say our quickness is probably a 7 or an 8 on a scale of 10 where last year it was a 9.
“We’re quick enough where we can push it.”
The Bulldogs switched to an up-tempo offense when they were 3-8 at midseason last year and went 6-4 the rest of the way.
Garrett said the team will also use some motion and flex sets.
He said James, Roberts and Powers are the team’s top low-post threats and the 5-11 Aud “can play in the post if we get the matchup we need.”
With three guards in the lineup often, Garrett expects the team’s ball-handling to be “pretty good.”
He said Dooley will start at the point, though Lawalin and Aud “can also run it.”
Despite having more size than last year, Garrett is still concerned about the team’s rebounding. “We’re still in a bad habit of just turning and going to the basket and not finding anyone to block out.”
Garrett expects to use mostly zone defenses but will also press some and play some man-to-man.
“We haven’t worked on defense that much--that’s what scares me. We may have to win games 80-70. But we’ve been trying to get everybody on the same page offensively.”
Garrett said the Bulldogs “should find out quickly where we stand,” as they play some of their top opponents early, including Tell City and Perry Central. And “history says South Spencer (a Dec. 9 opponent) is usually pretty good.”
In the Class A sectional Garrett expects defending champion Tecumseh to be strong again. “Kevin (Oxley, the Braves’ coach) maximizes the potential of all his kids.”
Garrett said the Bulldogs’ best chance to win the sectional could come “if we get some breaks with the draw,” such as Tecumseh and Wood Memorial both being placed in the opposite bracket. “You never know what happens in a one-game scenario.”