Look ahead to year of intensity
The Titans boys’ basketball team has some big shoes to fill this year after taking second place in the state last year. Led by Colorado 1A player of the year John Wright and a supporting senior cast of Robbie Holleran and Chris “Sharpshooter” Sharpe, the Titans finished the 2008-2009 season with just one loss.
Nevertheless, head coach Robin Loyed has a masterful grasp of the game and how to motivate his players to rise to the challenges ahead of them.
In preparation for this year, Loyed had his team work out over the summer in an effort to bring the young players up to speed, by participating in camps at Mesa State College and Western State College, and playing 20 games against bigger schools.
“We were playing some tough teams, it was real baptism by fire for some of the freshmen,” says Loyed.
Ultimately, the summer work has appeared to pay off as Loyed saw a number of improvements across the board.
“It’s always about getting better individually and less about getting better as a team,” explains Loyed. “I saw tremendous improvement from Sky [Egelhoff], Jake [Grogg] and the freshmen. It gave us the confidence to put freshmen in.”
The season officially started with preseason workouts on November 12. Loyed is looking at 16 players this year, nine of whom are freshmen and sophomores, led by junior captains Grogg and Henry Linehan.
Loyed points out that the team is aware of its situation compared to last year, and is adjusting appropriately.
“These guys realize we lost some firepower and if we’re going to stay in games we need intensity on defense and to take care of the ball,” says Loyed. “We have to be patient and let the offense unfold.”
Now, two weeks into workouts and with a scrimmage under their belt, one thing is for sure—the team is intense.
“They have brought intensity to practice that is really exciting,” says Loyed. “Henry and Jake are really vocal and are pushing these guys. The yardstick by which we measure ourselves is how many points per game we give up and turnovers. We have to keep turnovers in the single digits, treating every possession as precious.”
Their first test of the season came on Saturday, November 21 as the Titans traveled to Cotopaxi for a preseason scrimmage.
In the end, they hit their two primary goals as they committed just nine turnovers and held Cotopaxi to 27 points for the win.
“The guys were a little anxious in the first half, but once we settled down things went pretty well,” says Loyed. “Overall I was pretty pleased.”
Sophomore Anton Peck was the offensive standout, hitting seven of eight free throws. While the Titans’ half court trap forced some turnovers, their defense gave up a handful of three-point shots, much to Loyed’s chagrin.
“Our defense is designed to never give up a three,” says Loyed.
Loyed looks forward to a solid season and believes his team has the potential for one of three post-season tournament bids available to the Southern Peaks league.
“The good news is, our system is our system, and our guys know it,” explains Loyed. “We want to play man-to-man all the time if we can and the older guys have it down. The difference will be on offense. We’ll probably introduce more plays out of our two offensive sets designed to get our perimeter shooters some shots.”
The Titans continue with non-league play December 4-5, when they head to compete in the Lake County Invitational facing 2A, 3A and even a 4A program. They open league play at Mt. Olympus on Friday, December 11 when they host Centennial.
“I’m really excited about the non-conference schedule,” says Loyed. “It’s going to be a great early season test for the young guns. Then we’ll have a full week to regroup and get ready for our first conference game.”