The injury bug has already bitten Badin High School’s boys basketball team, but the optimism remains.
Veteran coach Gerry Weisgerber believes his Rams could surprise some people this season, even with leading returning scorer Justin Pappas likely out for the year with a knee injury.
“We told them at the end of last year and all summer long that we have to have double-digit wins in the regular season and we’ve got to get further in the tournament. I think they’re capable of doing that,” said Weisgerber, who’s 281-156 in 19 years leading the Rams after starting his second stint at the helm in 2016-17.
BOYS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS
“Our league is going to be good, and I think we’re capable of competing with all of them. We’ve just got to get that mentality that we can win these games in the league. We’ve got to believe that we’re that good.”
Badin, a 9-15 squad the last two years, lost leading scorer John Marot to graduation. Weisgerber said Pappas, a 6-foot-4 junior guard/forward, was having an outstanding offseason until he suffered a torn ACL in July.
There’s a possibility that Pappas, who averaged 8.3 points per game last season, could return in February, but the Rams are moving forward with the idea that he won’t be playing this year.
“We’ve known from the very beginning that he wasn’t going to be with us, so other people have to step up, and I think we’ve kind of had that,” Weisgerber said. “Each scrimmage has been a little bit better than the previous ones.”
GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS
He said Badin will look to play a more up-tempo style offensively and defensively this year. The Rams have a considerable amount of athleticism and some pretty good size, with 10 players ranging from 6-0 to 6-6.
Senior guard Daunte DeCello (5-10) and senior forward/center Jakob Tipton (6-6) are returning starters and averaged 5.2 and 4.8 points per game, respectively, last season.
“We’re probably going to pick up defensively a little bit higher than we have in the past,” Weisgerber said. “I’m hoping that we can get the ball and run a little bit more this year. I’m not saying we’re not running our normal stuff. I just want to get into it quicker.”
Weisgerber has always been a man-to-man coach, but said he’s thinking about working a zone into Badin’s defensive plans.
Senior guard Kyle Young (6-0) and senior forward Caleb Meyer (6-4) both played a lot last year. Also back after seeing some varsity action last season are senior guard Sam Mathews (5-10), senior forward Kenny Pendergest (6-1), senior center Jordan Flaig (6-1) and junior guard Nathan Hegemann (5-10).
Weisgerber said the varsity newcomers — junior center John Berg (6-2), junior guards Joseph Walsh (5-9) and Seth Hargis (6-0), and sophomore forwards Zach Switzer (6-5) and Spencer Giesting (6-3) — have plenty of potential.
DeCello, Mathews, Hegemann and Walsh are all slated to spend some time at point guard.
“You probably won’t see a set starting five for every single game,” Weisgerber said. “We’ve got a number of kids who are going to play a lot of minutes who played JV last year.
GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS
“The defensive end of the floor is my biggest concern, just picking it up and staying out of foul trouble. Our bigs have got to be able to play without getting in foul trouble.”
The 3-point shot is increasing in significance for the Rams. Weisgerber said a lot of his players will shoot from beyond the arc, with Meyer converting 10 treys last year.
“We’re not going to turn into a 3-point-launching team, but we’ll probably shoot a few more than we have in the past,” Weisgerber said. “I really like our potential to shoot the ball this year, but that’s not going to stop us from getting it inside and working it inside out.”
He pointed to Purcell Marian as the team to beat in the Greater Catholic League Coed Central Division. Weisgerber said the GCLC as a whole should be stronger this season.
Badin, which lost to Valley View in the second round of the Division II Dayton sectional last year, will open the 2017-18 campaign at home against Cincinnati Christian on Dec. 1.