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Local

Morris to rely on experience, depth

Redskins hope to increase win total

MORRIS – The 2018-19 season shapes up to look a little different for the Morris boys basketball team than last season.

The Redskins lost leading scorer and rebounder Tyler Spiezio to graduation, as well as starters Kameron Dransfeldt and Payton Voitik and reserve guard Kyle Litchfield, from last year’s team, which finished with a 6-22 record.

“We lost a lot of our varsity experience,” Morris coach Joe Blumberg said. “But we also do have some coming back.”

On the plus side for the Redskins, seniors Jacob Overbeck and Chatten Dryfhout return as players who saw significant minutes last season. Senior Ryan Lain got time at the end of the season when Spiezio went down with an injury, while senior Logan Edwards was used quite often off the bench. Blumberg is looking to them to provide the type of senior leadership the team will need.

“Because we have so many people coming back that have some experience, we are well ahead of where we were last year at this time,” Blumberg said. “One good thing is that Jacob Overbeck was really playing out of position last year at point guard. This year, we have couple of players we can put on the point [junior Jack Walker and sophomore Colin Cummings], so Jacob can move back to his natural position as a wing. That should free up some more shots for him and give him the ability to drive to the basket.

“Chatten gives us a lot of toughness and aggression on the floor. He may not be the biggest guy out there, but he really fights hard under the basket and does a good job getting position for rebounding.”

New to the varsity squad this year will be juniors Gabe Huffman, Evan Briones, Colby Kingsbury, Andrew Hipes and Barry Amiano.

“We have seen a lot of daily improvement from everybody,” Blumberg said. “These kids come to practice ready to improve and they work hard.”

Blumberg noted that the Redskins are going to be a bit different in style this season.

“We are going to adjust some of our defensive philosophies,” he said. “We are hoping to switch more in our man-to-man and maybe play some zone as well. Offensively, we want to push the ball a little more. I feel that we have more depth than we have had in the past. I feel comfortable with any of the 11 guys out there on the floor.

“Because we will be able to use our entire bench at any time, we hope we can play at a little faster tempo and shuttle guys in and out when they need a rest. We also think our man-to-man offense will be much improved.”

The early season hasn’t been kind to the Redskins, as health has been an issue.

“We have one player who had surgery last year and the pins are still giving him an issue,” Blumberg said. “We have one who is passing kidney stones and one who had a mole removed.

“Even with that, we are at the point right now that we were mid-December last year. The kids are learning what they have to do and where they have to be.”

The schedule is not very kind to the Redskins, as they only have seven home games on the schedule. Only one, a Dec. 11 non-conference game against Coal City, will take occur in 2018. The Redskins also will go to the United Center in Chicago on Dec. 8 to play Seneca. After opening the season with a Thanksgiving Tournament in Coal City, the Redskins will return to the Plano Christmas Classic in late December.

“We are going to have to be road warriors,” Blumberg said. “We better get comfortable with being on the road. The United Center game is always fun for the kids and their parents.”

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