SENECA – Graduating four starters would leave most basketball teams in a hole. Seneca boys coach Russell Witte has reason to believe his replacements will be fine.
“Toward January and February, this group that I have this year would actually be beating our starters last year for about the first half of the practice,” Witte said. “Our second group, which are these guys, really pushed our first group to the limit, if not outplayed them.”
“These guys” include senior guards Alex Bott and Carter Gallick and senior forwards Austin Applebee and Brad Wyss. They are among the favorites to join fellow senior Conlan Callahan, a 2013 Morris Daily Herald All-Area first-team selection, and the only returning starter, in the lineup.
Senior guards Scott Anderson, Ben Barnett and James Miller, senior forwards Devin Leo, junior guards Ben Rohder and Brandon Viken, junior forwards Colin Griffin and Alex Peterson, sophomore guard Ross McCormick and sophomore forward Devin Bryant will give Witte plenty of options.
How deep Witte will regularly go into his bench remains to be seen. Initially the answer may be often. Applebee, Barnett, Griffin, Leo and Wyss were part of Seneca’s Class 3A state quarterfinalist football team. The football players are not beginning practice with the basketball team until today, meaning they will practice three times before Tuesday’s opener. After that, Witte admits, he will not be “spoiled” with the kind of depth the 2012-13 Irish possessed.
“Our biggest question mark is gonna be depth,” Witte said. “We were really fortunate last year that I would honestly say I had players not get on the floor that could easily have gotten into a top-six, seven rotation somewhere else, but we were 11, 12 deep last year.”
While Callahan was Seneca’s leading scorer in 2012-13, two other players who graduated (Jimmy David and Peyton Schrag) averaged at least nine points per game, as well. None of the other returnees averaged more than 3.5 points per game. Callahan thinks there are plenty of capable options.
“If I have an off night, Alex Bott has an off night, Austin Applebee ... we got guys that can come in,” Callahan said. “The guys that were sitting on the bench, watching the starting five last year, they picked up a lot. They won’t miss a beat come season.”