Youth movement in full effect on boys court

Hunter Hippel, Online Editor

The boys basketball team is getting ready to tip-off their season, but this year is bringing new challenges to the table.

Equipped with a new coach and young roster, the team is looking to rebound from a mediocre 12-13 record last season.  That will demand extra contributions and expectations to be shattered this year.

The varsity roster only has five seniors this year, leaving it up to underclassmen to assume minutes that are left over from last year.

“We’re really going to be counting on them to step up this season,” senior Garrett Corcoran said.  “We have confidence in them.”

Junior Manny Jingco and sophomore Nate Shikenjanski will form the youthful backcourt.  However, these guys have experience.  Both played on Varsity last year (Jingo started).

“Practicing with the Varsity guys gave me a lot more experience, because the game is so much faster and they it a lot more seriously,” Shikenjanski said.  He cited Jingo as someone he learned a lot from.

Shikenjanski is ready to take the next step.

My freshman year taught me how to work even harder each day, and I’ll come into varsity knowing that I’ve got to get better every day.”

— Nate Shikenjanski

“My freshman year taught me how to work even harder each day, and I’ll come into varsity knowing that I’ve got to get better every day,” Shikenjanski said.  Maybe the inexperience isn’t something to be so concerned about.

However, at every level of basketball, inexperience usually takes it toll.  The players understand this.

“Losing five seniors in the varsity lineup is always hard, but we can really prove some people wrong,” Shikenjanski said.

There is optimism, but the even the best know its going to be a challenge.

“With our inexperience we want to be growing throughout the year,” Coach Brady Hannigan said.  “We want them [the players] to learn to compete in November and December and be playing our best basketball in February and March.”

That’s a fair mindset, or at least a realistic one.  The Ponies might struggle early, but could pull off a late run and find themselves in the playoffs.  That sounds like the goal according to Coach Hannigan.

Hannigan said his transition to Stillwater has been “great” and that “the players we have coming out for basketball are ones of high character.”

Following in the steps of Randy Jordan is big task, and its great to see that the players are responding well.

“We have had many players who have worked extremely hard this summer and fall to prepare for the season,” Hannigan said.

Hannigan is in the process of installing a new system with the Ponies.

“We want to implement a fast paced transition team here at Stillwater,” said Hannigan.  “But our number one goal is to instill a mindset that prioritizes being a great defensive team.”

Hannigan is going to allow good shooters to shoot, but those open shots have to come from somewhere.  Playing good defense and forcing turnovers gets you that, by getting steals and having the fast guys fly up the court and being ready to shoot if needed.  Thats the definition of transition basketball, and Hannigan’s system fits it perfectly.

Despite this year’s challenges, the team has confidence.