Hoop time approaches

MANCHESTER - It may be a little more than a week before the first official practice will take place, but Burr and Burton Academy boys basketball head coach Dave Shehadi said he already has a good sense of what he'll be working with by the time the season opens on Dec. 10 against Brattleboro Union High School.

Burr and Burton graduated eight seniors last year and are only returning four seniors who saw significant playing time last season - center Jake Stalcup and guards Dave Shehadi, Weston Muench and Robert England.

Also returning to this year's squad is senior guard Tanner Carleton who Shehadi said shoots the ball well and senior guard Gecaun Ellis who Shehadi feels has a lot of potential.

What else he will have to work with is a little unclear. Shehadi has been holding open gym sessions and a preliminary meeting will be held next week, at which time Shehadi said he will have a better grasp of how many people will be trying out for the team.

One of the challenges this year's team will face is a lack of height - a challenge they have not faced in the past couple of years.

"We've got a lot of guards and we're not as big as we were last year or the last couple years," said Shehadi. "I think Jake's our biggest guy coming back. He's about six-four and a couple of the sophomores have some height, but haven't beefed up enough yet. So, if we've got to go center, forward and three guards we'll do it. We'll spread the floor, play up tempo and run and jump a little bit and play small. It's a fun way to play, but sometimes you've got to play that way if you don't have the size."

Another challenge will be determining whether or not this year's team has the same depth. Last year Shehadi said he regularly played nine to 10 players throughout the course of a game - something he may not be able to do this year.

"The challenge this year is between that senior group and a couple juniors and those sophomores is to see who's really going to step up and be part of the rotation," Shehadi said. "In high school ball it's a fun way to play if we can play a lot of kids and keep legs fresh. If some of the other guys don't step up we'll have to shorten the rotation and probably slow down a little bit."

If the team struggles to produce points off the bench, Shehadi said he may play a core rotation of about seven or eight players. However, he stressed that he would ideally like to play more players in the rotation if possible.

One idea that Shehadi said he has been "toying around" with - particularly since they have a light junior class and strong sophomore class - is having some kids play at both the junior varsity and varsity levels.

"I expect a couple of those guys to help us and we may move some kids up," Shehadi said. "Depending on how the season progresses, we may have some kids play a little bit of JV, a little bit of varsity depending on what we're doing. We have a lot of kids in that grade who understand how to play. They've been playing together a long time."

Shehadi explained that they might play some kids for half a game at the JV level and then have them suit up and play some minutes off the bench on the varsity squad.

While Shehadi said it's still too early to determine how this year's squad will stack up against the competition, he expects to be competitive.

"I think we'll compete well this year it will [just] be a new experience for some of the kids," said Shehadi. "Based on how they played over the summer and the work they put in it's a great group of kids. We're excited."


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