Coming off a berth in the WIAA Division 5 state semifinals, the McDonell boys basketball team will be in major transition mode to begin the 2012-13 season.
Last year’s team went 25-3, won the Western Cloverbelt Conference and was a Sam Dekker three-pointer away from the state title game. That team also had three all-county selections — Kyle Cody, Tyler Erickson and Ryan Baier — that have since graduated. Along with all-county honorable mention Austin Hiess, the Macks are down four of the five starters that propelled them to last year’s incredible run.
To put that in a bit of perspective, McDonell averaged approximately 62 points per game last year. With those four starters gone, 46 of those points go away.
10th-year coach Archie Sherbinow knows that replacing that kind of production won’t be easy. But he still believes that if his 2012-13 team maintains the fundamentals that were behind last year’s state run, the Macks will be successful.
“We just want to make sure we know the positive things that helped us on the year that we had last year,” Sherbinow said. “Yeah, we had some good athletes. But we played good defense, we hustled every time we were on the floor. Those are the things we want to make sure we remember. That’s what helped us be successful. ... Remember some of things that got us (to state), not the people that got us there.”
McDonell does return one starter from last year’s team — senior Josh Watton, an all-county honorable mention last season. Watton, who averaged a little over nine points per game, will be expected to take over as the Macks’ primary offensive weapon. Sherbinow does expect Watton do take over that role, but doesn’t want his team’s offense to completely revolve around him.
“He knows he’s going to have to do that,” he said. “The thing we want to be careful with is still doing it within our concept and letting our other players make him a better player too. Josh understands he doesn’t have to do it by himself. These guys will help him score. He’s going to have to put the ball in the basket for us, but let the other kids help him.”
Among the players Sherbinow is hoping will step up along with Watton in 2012-13 is senior point guard Andrew Klimek, who averaged 3.3 points last year off the bench. Cody Mondeau, Nick Zander and Sam Sorensen, among others, will also be expected to take on a heavier role this year.
“They were on the varsity roster last year and didn’t see a lot of time, but we’re expecting some things from them,” Sherbinow said. “Really, we just want to make sure we’re playing good defense to start with and see where our points come from. It’s going to take some finding out. There’s not a ton of guys who’ve ever had that role of putting the ball in the basket.”
While expectations won’t necessarily be to repeat what happened last year, Sherbinow still does expect his team to perform well — even in a Western Cloverbelt in which almost every team other than McDonell will be better than a year ago.
“Well we know pretty much everyone in our conference has gotten tougher this year,” he said. “With graduation we definitely lost the most (from last year’s teams). I still expect to compete with the top teams in the conference. We’re going to compete, I just know that. We’re not going to allow ourselves not to compete.”
McDonell opens its season tonight hosting Chetek-Weyerhaeuser in a nonconference game. The Macks play their first conference game on Friday, November 30 at Altoona.