Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

November 25, 2013

BOYS BASKETBALL: Eastern preview

Eastern has new coach and just one returning letterwinner.

Kokomo Tribune

---- — GREENTOWN — Eastern boys basketball is getting a fresh start, albeit with a familiar face.

And with one returning letterwinner, new coach Mike Springer has been able to step in and implement the ground work for his program in what’s been seamless transition.

“The positives are that I’ve known most of the kids since they were in junior high, being a teacher there for the last 10 years,” said Springer, who coached Eastern’s girls program for five seasons (2003-08). “Even though most of these kids played [JV] last year, I think they are ready to step up to the varsity level. We’re going to be really young, but we have a pretty balanced team.

“Our kids are hungry,” Springer added. “They’ve come to practice every day with positive attitudes and have really worked hard. I’ve been pleased with our progress on both ends of the floor. We have a long way to go, but like I said, I think the kids are hungry. They’re working pretty well together.”

Senior Braden Gibson is the lone returner with significant varsity experience. The 5-foot-9 guard averaged 10.3 points per game a year ago, but will look be more of a ball-handler and distributor for the otherwise fledgling Comets. Gibson is the team’s only senior, as well, after graduating six seniors from last season’s 3-18 squad.

“He’s done a good job of communicating with the kids and really trying to lead them,” Springer said. “Braden is a really good 3-point shooter, but he’s been passing the ball well and hitting the open man.”

Junior guards Blake Shrader (5-8) and Noah Cope (5-11) and sophomore forwards Jacob Kinder (6-2) and Braden Evans (6-2) likely will round out the starting five. Shrader, Cope and Evans each saw varsity action in 19 games a season ago, while Kinder is a move-in from Christian Heritage Academy.

Sophomore guard Tristen Moyers (6-0) and junior guard Chandler Buck (5-8) both saw action in 13 varsity games and will be key reserves. Junior post Aaron Wyant (6-3), sophomore post Trey Thomas (6-3) and freshman guard Zach Robinson (5-8) also will see varsity minutes for a squad that will be smaller than most of its opponents.

“We want to move the ball … and shoot the shots we want to shoot, not the shots our opponents want us to shoot,” Springer said. “We’re going to be a team that has good scoring on the perimeter. But I feel like we can get some points in the paint, as well, maybe not so much posting up, but with dribble penetration because we have kids who can attack the rim off the dribble.”

With his program still in its infancy, and the growing pains that go along with it, Springer, first and foremost, wants to see his team control what it can control. That starts with effort.

“We want to be the hardest-working team on the floor every night,” he said. “When we step on the floor, our kids are going to be ready in the sense that we’ve got them prepared for what the other team will throw at us. We want to be one of the best defensive teams around, and I felt like we got off to a good start on the defensive end in our scrimmage. We want to build a good, solid program and expect everyone to play hard and play together every night.”

COMETS' SCHEDULE Wednesday Frankton Dec. 7 Eastbrook Dec. 13 Western Dec. 14 at Southwood Dec. 20 at Peru Dec. 21 at Clinton Central Jan. 10 Maconaquah Jan. 11 at Carroll Jan. 17-18 at Howard Co. Tourney Jan. 24 Hamilton Heights Jan. 25 at Northfield Jan. 31 Taylor Feb. 1 at Tipton Feb. 7 at Elwood Feb. 8 Oak Hill Feb. 13 at Cass Feb. 21 at Northwestern Feb. 25 Wabash Feb. 28 at Tri-Central