Boys hope home-court bump leads to fast start to season
Mutual respect would be a good way to summarize the feelings of Eudora coach Kyle Deterding and Kansas City Piper's coach Darrin Sweany heading into the clash of their two teams.
The boys basketball season will open up Monday night at 7:30 p.m. for the two schools, when they meet at Eudora High School in the Cardinal 2007 Invitational tournament.
Piper finished 21-5 last year, earning a state tournament berth and finishing fourth.
"They have a new coach," Deterding said, "so nobody really knows what they're going to do. This early in the year, we're not nearly as worried about what the other team is doing. We're worrying about what we're doing and we've got a lot of things to work on."
Piper returns no starters from last year's team, but does have a few players who saw limited action last year.
"I know Eudora will play very hard and put lots of pressure on us," said Sweany, who took over after former coach David Hall resigned to spend more time with his family. "We will have to handle their full-court pressure if we want to have a chance to compete in this game."
Deterding said he hopes to play anywhere from eight to 10 guys Monday, and that should allow him to press and play the way Eudora normally plays.
He was missing a few people over Thanksgiving break, a couple because of family trips and a few because of illness. That may have set the team back a little bit in terms of conditioning and being able to play relentless defense, but Deterding hopes to use his depth to offset that.
Playing three games in four days should be a good test to see where the team is from a conditioning and execution standpoint, as all the teams in the tournament will play Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, Dec. 6.
The chance to play a season-opening home tournament once every two years is something Deterding really likes. Some other teams go on the road and stay in hotels for a couple of days at the beginning of the year, which Deterding says has its advantages from a chemistry standpoint.
Still, he said the chance to remain at home, feed off the home-court advantage and experience playing in your own gym surrounded by hometown fans is a great deal. Plus, it's a lot cheaper for the administration.
This year's tournament is a lot like the tournaments of years past for Deterding, beginning his third year as coach.
They've all been important chances for the team to gain experience. In his first season, it was important to let the kids see his system and learn how to play in it. Then the following year Eudora didn't return any starters, and this year it's missing the top eight players from last year's team.
Morgan Abel and Aaron Shockley are two players who saw a lot of minutes last year so the team will look to them for leadership and scoring.
"Each year it's something different," Deterding said. "But we've got to find out. I'm ready to see where we're at. It's hard practicing against the same people all the time."
The team will get the chance to play against some fresh faces when it has its annual alumni scrimmage Thursday. Deterding welcomed the chance to play against somebody different, even if though they will be familiar faces.