Eddie Glaser wants to keep Talawanda High School’s boys basketball team on the upswing.
The Braves haven’t had a winning season since 2008-09 and appeared to be headed in that direction last year, but lost nine of their last 10 games to finish 9-14.
Still, that was the program’s best record since the 16-6 campaign of 2008-09, and Glaser believes his squad can keep climbing.
“I think last year we definitely laid the foundation, and I would say this year we should be able to build upon that,” said Glaser, starting his second year at the helm. “No matter what, our kids are going to play hard. They’re a very, very coachable group. They buy into everything that we’re telling them to do.”
Talawanda doesn’t return much in the way of experience. It can be summed up like this: Evan James and Andrew O’Donnel started a couple games last season, Justin Boggs played in all but one game, and Charlie Winkler saw action in seven games.
O’Donnel, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior forward, is the top returning scorer with a 3.8 average. He’s dealing with an ankle injury heading into Friday’s season opener against visiting Badin.
“The inexperience has shown at times in the preseason, but that also kind of plays to our advantage because nobody really knows what we have,” Glaser said. “At the same time, the success we had this summer and the amount of time guys put in during the summer and fall, I think that’s really allowed a lot of these guys to make that jump up to the varsity level.
“I would say we should surprise some teams this year, especially with the amount of size that we have. And five of our first six games are at home. I think that’s going to alleviate the butterflies some of the guys are going to have.
“Year 2 is a heck of a lot easier than Year 1. It’s like you’re just trying to keep your head above water in Year 1, and you don’t know what to expect. Now it’s like I can breathe. We have everything in place. Now we can work on the details.”
The Braves have six players 6-3 or taller: 6-7 junior Josh DeWitt, 6-5 junior Ty Hornsby, O’Donnel, 6-4 senior Blake Cooke, 6-3 junior James and 6-3 sophomore John Beckett.
“This will probably be one of the taller teams that I’ve been around in my 10 years here at Talawanda,” Glaser said. “We will definitely want to utilize our height.
“I would say that we are more of a finesse team at this point. We want them to be a little tougher and a little more physical. We will have 3-point shooters, but I don’t know if it’s necessarily going to be a strength of our team. We want to get the ball more to the inside and towards the rim through drives.
“There’s a good mix of height, length and quickness to help us on both ends of the floor.”
With O’Donnel on the mend, Glaser said he’s looking at a starting lineup that includes Boggs, a 6-0 senior point guard, James and Winkler on the perimeter. The two starting forwards are expected to come from the threesome of Hornsby, Dewitt and Cooke.
Winkler is a 6-1 senior, and Cooke and guard Kelvin Reisenfeld are seniors who didn’t play basketball last year. Junior guards Dalton Persinger and Blake Bryan are also in the mix, along with 6-0 sophomore Tommy Winkler.
“I think it’ll be a balanced scoring team,” Glaser said. “Last year, we were very top heavy. This year, teams won’t necessarily be able to key on one guy because we will have other options we can go to. I think that’s helped our team come together.”
Coach: Eddie Glaser, second season
2015-16 Record: 9-14 overall, 5-7 in the Southwest Ohio Conference (fourth place)
2016-17 Schedule (all start times 7:30 p.m.): Dec. 2 — Badin; Dec. 6 — Taylor; Dec. 10 — at Franklin; Dec. 16 — Little Miami; Dec. 20 — Eaton; Dec. 23 — Harrison; Dec. 27 — at Monroe; Dec. 29-30 — at Madison’s Brian Cook Classic; Jan. 3 — at Mount Healthy; Jan. 6 — Edgewood; Jan. 7 — at Northwest; Jan. 13 — at Ross; Jan. 17 — Hamilton; Jan. 20 — at Little Miami; Jan. 27 — at Harrison; Jan. 28 — Franklin County (Ind.); Feb. 3 — Mount Healthy; Feb. 4 — at Edgewood; Feb. 7 — at Cincinnati Christian; Feb. 10 — Northwest; Feb. 17 — Ross