More experience should mean more victories for Knights boys this winter
Four starters return for veteran coach Hepp
Glendale - Looking to build off a strong finish from last season and trying to avoid the injury bug that plagued them in that campaign, a more experienced Nicolet boys basketball team opened its season with a 69-63 loss to Bay View on Friday.
"It's been largely positive, said coach Paul Hepp in his 18th year with the Knights. "We have nine seniors on the roster and seven kids who saw significant minutes last season. They're just picking up things more quickly and we don't have to repeat ourselves as much."
The Knights finished at 8-17 last season as injuries tore them apart during the early portion of the season. They did finish the campaign well though, winning six of the last eight contests including pulling a couple of upsets in WIAA Division 2 regional play before losing to Milwaukee Washington in the regional final.
Unfortunately for Hepp, some of those same injury issues have slowed the Knights a little bit so far this early in the season. At times, he only had eight healthy bodies for practice last week but was able to suit up 11 for the Bay View tilt.
Hepp will work around four returning starters including seniors 6-3 Eugene Bonner (second-team All-North Shore last season, 13.2 ppg), 6-5 Tyler Miller (12.7 ppg and 7 rpg) and 5-9 guard Treland Jenkins (5.9 ppg). A junior starter who is back is 5-11 guard Greg Pigg (9.5 ppg).
Others with experience include seniors 6-4 Alex Dranzik (3.2 ppg) and 6-1 Nolan Wagner (4 ppg) and 6-4 junior Jerry Luckett (3.6 ppg).
Newcomers include seniors 5-10 Nasir Childs and 6-0 Lamar Smith, 6-2 Jimmie Scales and 6-0 Randy Gryzbowski and 5-9 sophomore Ali Doroodchi.
Hepp said the returning experience should translate into a lot of positive things.
"We'll be able to put in a few more things into the offense and we'll be able to be more balanced game in and game out," Hepp said. "If we can get four guys into double figures each game, we'll be in good shape. We have about 80 percent of our scoring back and 90 percent of our rebounding. If we find the 'want-to' to do the fundamental things right, that should translate into a few more victories."
The Knights took on Waukesha North in another nonconference game today and open North Shore play Nov. 27 at home against border rival Whitefish Bay.
In the loss to Bay View, the Knights took an initial 14-7 first quarter lead, but were behind 25-22 at the half. Bonner had 22 points for Nicolet while Jenkins hit nine-of-nine free throws en route to 20 points, and Luckett contributed 13.
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