Look to build on last year’s success
It took just 10 games for the Crested Butte Titans boys’ basketball team to take hold of their renewed destiny. Last year, Robin Loyed and Scott Desmarais took over the coaching duties and revamped the entire team strategy initiating a high pressure, run-and-gun style of play.
For some teams, it takes as long as an entire season, sometimes two, to adjust to a new style. Often, those seasons are called rebuilding years and teams will finish at or around the .500 mark, satisfied with their accomplishments.
Not the Titans, though.
The Titans closed the first half of the season with a 5-5 record. From there they erupted to end the season winning 12 of their last 15 games, finished in second place in their league, and earned a berth in the regional tournament.
“It was a terrific season,” says Loyed. “Every challenge I gave them, they rose to it. I was exceptionally proud.”
At the close of the season, Loyed explained that he was transforming the program into a year-round commitment from his players. The players took hold of Loyed’s call to action, participating in two summer camps for a total of 20 games, and showed up in force at “optional” pre-season workouts.
“I thought we accomplished a lot over the summer,” says Loyed.
Furthermore, the team lost just one starter to graduation last year and is adding a couple of new players who should make an impact this season. All told, the Titan boys have 21 players this year, eight of whom are seniors.
“At this stage of the game, we’re really excited about our numbers,” says Loyed. “It’s a pretty experienced group.”
According to Loyed, junior John Wright—who led the team last season averaging 18 points and 14 rebounds per game—has improved his short-range shooting and should continue to be a double-double threat.
Senior Alexei Desmarais is recuperating from a shoulder injury but will be back in time for the first game of the season adding offense from three-point range. Senior Will Curry plays an integral role at both ends of the court, especially on defense, and Loyed plans on using him as the key match-up against the top player on opposing teams.
Senior Daniel Hargrove had a breakthrough season last year and provides a threat, penetrating the lane from the perimeter.
Senior Randy Evans spent most of last season nursing an injury but should be another scoring and rebounding threat this year, along with Wright.
Finally, junior Robbie Holleran joins the team for the first time after spending time with the Titans at the summer basketball camps.
“That will give us two big guys on the front line with Robbie and John,” says Loyed.
In addition, the team continues to build on the foundation established last year on offense, while adding several new aspects to their defensive game plan.
“I’m really pleased with our offense,” says Loyed. “The biggest change is a much greater emphasis on man-to-man defense and man-to-man pressure full-court. I think we have the athletes and the talent for man-to-man.”
Senior Will Curry says he sees the effects of the team’s commitment coupled with their overall experience from last season.
“I think we’re going to be pretty good,” says Curry. “We play better together this year and we’ve got a lot more experience. Our endurance and speed is way better than last year. We’re going to be able to run a lot more.”
Curry believes that with increased endurance and speed comes a more complete game.
“We’re going to have stronger third and fourth quarters and that’s what killed us last year, the third quarter,” says Curry.
The team heads to Ouray on November 30 to play in a four-team tournament and plays its first home game against Plateau Valley on Saturday, December 8 with the JV game at 2:30 p.m. and the varsity tip-off at 5:30 p.m.