Summit High boys’ basketball: Tiger turnaround looming
FARMER’S KORNER – Winning only one game over the last two seasons doesn’t make for many fond memories. But the Summit High boys’ basketball team isn’t trying to forget about their past struggles.
They just want to learn from them.
“All of us got really good experience last year, even if we won only one game,” senior point guard Charlie Whittaker said. “It was one of the biggest learning experiences any of us have ever been through.”
“Confidence, we’re a lot more confident, our chemistry is a lot better,” added sophomore guard Coy Coker, who played extensively as a freshman last season.
And with a new head coach, a new uptempo style of play and a whole new philosophy, the Tigers are looking to make a leap. Really, they’re trying to push from their doormat status through the front door of Jeffco League contenders.
Head coach Philip Tronsrue isn’t pretending the Tigers will take the state by storm when they open the season tonight at Jefferson High School in Denver. They’re young, and Tronsrue knows it’ll be a work in progress.
“We’ll be a different team after the next couple weeks than we will be (tonight), and we’ll be a different team when January rolls around than we’ll be in a couple weeks,” the coach said. ” … I will tell you that we’ll be competitive. We’re going to play hard night in and night out, giving our best effort, and hopefully, that will equate to some wins.”
Winning is what breeds confidence, Tronsrue said, and he knows his team needs to get more of that to be successful.
The past couple seasons have been a struggle for the Tigers. A senior-driven squad in 2008-09 failed to win a single game, despite a number of close scores. A year ago, the Tigers had just one senior on the roster and were forced to play four freshmen in their eight-man rotation.
They won once, but the win-loss record doesn’t exactly tell the whole story of the 2009-10 Tigers. Although, it gives Tronsrue an idea of where he’s starting in his first year with Summit.
After seven years across the Shrine Pass at Battle Mountain, Tronsrue takes over a team that returns pretty much every key player. From senior post Keynan Roggasch to the outside with Whittaker and Coker, the Tigers have the talent to make a drastic jump in league play – and take a handful of nonconference contests.
Still, the limitations are there, particularly in terms of height. At 6-foot-3, Roggasch is easily the team’s biggest force on the court. The team’s other two returning seniors – Whittaker at 5-6, and Michael Leopold at 6-1 – will play pivotal rolls in the team’s success but aren’t exactly going to beat opponents with their size.
But the Tigers are fast and have a strong group of ball handlers and shooters.
Enter Tronsrue’s uptempo attack.
“I’m not saying we’re going to be a helter-skelter, all-over-the-floor type of a team, but we are going to press,” Tronsrue said. ” … On the whole, we are going to try to pick the tempo up a bit. It all just depends on if we can do it on a consistent basis.”
The team’s starting trio of guards – Coker, Whittaker and sophomore Markeith McDonald – will play a large roll in that. Tronsrue said they play “nicely” together, and with Leopold and Roggasch up front, the Tigers have a very athletic starting five. Off the bench, sophomore Nolan Rookey will provide the Tigers with another big body and a nice touch from the outside. Tronsrue also said the team’s second group of guards are looking solid.
And so far in practice, the team is feeling good about the change in philosophy.
“Last year, we ran a lot of plays, and this year, we’re a little more aware and just playing basketball,” Whittaker said. ” … We just feel a lot more comfortable.”
“It’s a lot better. Everyone’s improved a lot,” Roggasch said.
The changes and the natural maturation over the summer and fall have the Tigers eyeing a winning season – and maybe even a playoff appearance.
All of that would have seemed a bit farfetched last season. But, that’s what has the Tigers so excited: Even after such a dismal winter a year ago, the forecast for Summit isn’t all doom and gloom, and the memories of that one-win campaign aren’t something the Tigers are going to ignore.
“I think it’s really going to benefit us,” Whittaker said. ” … We’re hoping for a lot more.”
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