The Sequim Wolves will be fielding a new-look boys basketball team this season, with seven key senior players graduated and an injury likely keeping an important player to a limited role at best.
After a season where the team went 12-10 overall, and finished third in the Olympic League with a 7-5 record before falling in the district playoffs with an 0-2 record, head coach Greg Glasser is hoping that his heavily rebuilt team will be able to step up to the challenge.
“All of them played an important part,” Glasser said, referring to last year’s graduates.
“Nate (Despain), obviously he’s a big loss, but you have to look at all of them, especially all of them who were with us for four years. They were big parts of our team.”
Those graduates include last year’s big star Despain, an All-Olympic League first team guard, plus Kyler Rollness, Joey Oliver, Riley Cowan, Rigo Langston, Blake Wiker and Keeshawn Whitney — each of whom were starters or key members of Glasser’s rotation on the court.
Junior guard Michael Young will also be missing most if not all of the season after suffering a sprained knee late in the football season this fall.
“The kids we have here, though, are really committed to this team,” Glasser said. “They’ve put in a ton of time and I’m excited for the opportunity that they have ahead of them.”
The new team
When asked about what his new team would look like, Glasser noted that this would be a completely different kind of squad than Wolves fans may be used to from recent years.
“This is a completely different team (than last year),” he said. “These kids think the game differently than that team did.”
While most of his rotation and tactical setup hasn’t been solidified yet, Glasser identified six players he expects to feature heavily: senior Stew Duncan, juniors Dallin Despain, Erik Christiansen, Hayden Eaton and Riley Chen, plus freshman Isaiah Moore.
Moore in particular is an interesting player to Glasser, who noted that the young forward has “played a lot of (youth) basketball, and has had really great coaching.”
Despite being his team’s youngest player, Moore can play a big role right away, Glasser said — particularly as one of the team’s bigger and more athletic players.
Glasser pointed out a handful of other players, including junior guard Marcus Allen and senior swing player Zach Ballantyne, who will see minutes playing “important roles” for the team, and noted that a trio of sophomores — Brandon Wagner, Kristian Mingoy and Glasser’s youngest son Pryce — will practice with the varsity team and see playing time as they earn it.
A new style
In recent years, the Wolves have frequently employed a more deliberate tempo, building up play to take advantage of the team’s more technical players.
This year, Glasser said, the Wolves are turning up the pace.
“We’re going to have to play a lot differently,” the head coach said. “Our speed is going to be our strength this season. We want to play more up-tempo, we want to play more full court.
“We have two very athletic big men in Hayden and Isaiah, and we want to get them running the court.”
The Wolves are also going to have to find new scoring outlets, losing over 40 points per game in scoring from that graduating group, including the notable three-point scoring threats that Nate Despain and Kyler Rollness offered.
Most of this year’s core players played fairly limited roles on varsity last year — of the six core players Glasser named, only Erik Christiansen played more than 150 varsity minutes, and only he, Despain and Eaton played more than 100 — so don’t be surprised if the team has some growing pains early in the year.
Glasser is hopeful of the team’s ability to grow, though, noting that his squad is young enough that almost all of them will be in next year’s team as well. “When we’re having this conversation next year,” he said, “we’ll have been running this system for a year and added some things to it as we’ve gone. I’m expecting them to get a lot better as we go.”