PLYMOUTH – A solid run at the end of last year was nice for Plymouth’s Pilgrims but with seven seniors on the roster it left some questions about just what the 2016-17 year would look like.
“We are talking about four starters and seven great team mates they are going to be terribly hard to replace,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Bales about the class of 2016. “We’ve got our work cut out for us. The good thing is that now you can do things in the summer with a lot of your team. We get to be around our guys a little bit and observe them and evaluate them.
New faces with on the floor experience makes the task easier along with the ability to spend more time in the off season in team activities.
“We try to use our JV as much as we can to let kids develop,” said Bales. “They got great experience last year whether it was freshman level or JV level. There is a progression to everything that we do. That’s what we’ve seen that we were able to develop a lot of guys last year at the JV level and a lot of them played at a very high level. They had an outstanding year. They come into our season expecting success and expecting to make plays and confident. I’ve been very impressed with our young kids.”
“There’s a lot of guys that know how to play basketball, there’s a good basketball IQ. We aren’t spending all that time teaching those things at the varsity level. From that stand point I feel these guys are prepared. They have a great attitude they are working hard and that’s always a positive from the coaching side of things.”
Even the returning veterans have come into preseason work outs with a great energy.
“We have five seniors and outside of (Nick) Felke, I think they all feel they have a lot to prove,” said Bales. “It’s nice to have veterans out there that know what they are doing. We had a great sectional run the end of last year. These guys coming in are all coachable, there’s great chemistry and that’s what we’ve enjoyed in this off season.”
One returner that won’t sneak up on anybody is four year starting point guard Nick Felke. His name will likely be highlighted on any opponents scouting report for good reason. His head coach feels the senior is ready for the challenge.
“We expect there are going to be moments when he’s going to have to put us on his back,” said Bales. “He knows that. There were times last year that he had to do that. It’s not new to him. The thing I like is that he’s in a situation now where he had guys around him that can make some plays and he’s trusting those guys. He’s sharing the ball right now as much as he’s looking to score himself. His ability to make other guys better has really improved from last season.
“When he came to us four years ago he was a spot up shooter, handle the ball get it to the wing, now he’s in attack mode, always looking for that shot.”
Bales has several senior options that will help take the pressure off his four year letterman.
“Ryan Carmichael probably has the most experience out of everybody other than Nick from last season,” said Bales. “He’s a coaches kid, he gets it, he works hard. As a senior I think he’s willing to step into more of a leadership role. We are going to need some scoring out of him for sure but he has to be one of our best one on one defenders.”
Some senior role players will also make a difference.
“Travis Owen has come in looking like a different player. He’s just steady, said Bales. “Dyllon Pavey had a great summer and I think gained a lot of confidence. We were impressed with his ability to rebound the basketball and we hope he can give us some solid minutes doing that.”
Along with basketball intelligence the group has overall intelligence and it’s an attribute that Bales thinks is a big positive.
“I think our overall GPA is at 3.7 on a 4.0 scale for 12 guys that’s amazing,” said Bales. “We have four guys over 4.0. They get along well great chemistry, the older guys are including the younger guys and the younger guys are fitting in because they compete.”
“We’ve got a tough early schedule with a lot of teams that are going to test us and battle us early,” said Bales. “As a young team we have to make sure that we are in the right competitive mode. The good thing is that we’ve had a great practice attitude. Our guys understand what’s best for the team is working hard and being prepared.”