The Cardinals hope to put last season’s crushing finale behind them
A year ago at Anderson County, the Eudora Cardinals boys basketball season ended on a buzzer beater at the hands of the Bulldogs. It was an outcome that could easily carry over into a new season.
This is another year however, and the 2005-2006 boys basketball team is only looking forward, coach Kyle Deterding said.
"It's new season," the first-year coach said. "You can't do anything about what happened last year. You can only look forward to this year."
Eudora moves on from a 7-14 season that saw a nine-game losing streak derail any hopes of a high seed at sub-state.
While this is a new season for the Cardinals, there are still some familiar elements to the team as it works its way through Deterding's first season.
One of the keys to the Cardinals success will be the reliance on the team's quickness and hustle to make up for deficiencies elsewhere.
"That's going to be key for us this year," Deterding said. "Quickness and hustle are going to be the things that we will need to have success this season."
The emphasis on quickness could help Eudora adjust to a more up-tempo offense than it had a year ago.
The speed and effort the Cardinals will rely on this season will be critical as the Cardinals are once again without substantial size in the middle.
Eudora lost seniors Joe Kaup and Brendan Jackson in the middle and both were huge contributors on rebounds and high percentage shots.
Returning senior Rodney Spillman factored into many games on the boards a year ago and may help with the size issue, while juniors Todd Roberts and Tim DeArmond may also be a factor. Both logged varsity minutes a year ago and along with senior Guy Montgomery may be consistent contributors on high percentage shots.
The speed and the size that the Cardinals would have enjoyed will be hindered as the season begins.
Injuries to seniors Luke Abel, Mark Abel and Nolan Smith could play a role in how the team shapes up as the season gets under way.
Cardinal point guard Luke Abel, who is still recuperating from a broken clavicle suffered near the end of the football season, will not be available for the beginning of the season.
Smith will miss out on the beginning of the year with a broken wrist, while guard Mark Abel still suffers from a nagging knee and ankle injuries from late in the football campaign.
"We'll be a different team when the season starts," Deterding said. "But we'll work on the things that we can do to get where we need to be."
Those injuries, however, may provide an upside for the Cardinals as the practice sessions progress, as the minutes that would normally go to those experienced players will now be up for grabs.
"There are a few players who have an opportunity to take those minutes," Deterding said.
"It's a good time to see what some of these guys can do."
One of the concerns that plagued the team a year ago was free throws. The Cardinals shot themselves in the foot at the line in critical spots last year, including a loss at Louisburg where the team missed six-straight down the stretch. They ended the year shooting under 60 percent.
The approach to free throws this year however, will not necessarily be to concentrate on them.
The head coach seeks to keep his team comfortable at the line, which will perhaps translate into more points when it counts.
"I know these kids don't miss free throws on purpose," Deterding said. "We shoot free throws every day, but we're not going to harp on them about it. We're just going to get them into a routine and get them comfortable."
The Cardinals will get their first taste of action in early December in the Eudora Invitational Tournament, but with the emphasis on looking forward to the new year, it doesn't mean they will be looking ahead or past any opponent.
"We will take care of ourselves and do the things we need to do to be ready," Deterding said. "It doesn't matter who we play if we can't do that."