“They’re so coachable and bring a positive energy to the gym, things you dream about as a coach”
By Than Acuff
Crested Butte Titans winter sports are back in action and the boys’ basketball team officially opened workouts on Monday, November 13 with 22 players out for the team this year.
“It’s about the same as last year,” says coach Hannes Gehring. “I’m happy with these numbers because I thought we’d be below 20.”
Gehring returns for his third year at the helm with former Titan standouts Robbie Holleran, John Mahoney, Mike Bacani and Justen Alteras as assistants. They’re looking to improve upon last season in which the Titans finished 9-11, fourth in their league, and were eliminated from the first round of the post season losing to Ignacio.
“We had a great group of seniors, many challenges but more dexterity,” says Gehring. “The kids kept a positive attitude through it all. I was proud of how we dealt with adversity.”
Gehring is looking forward to the season, and while the team lost five seniors to graduation, they have five juniors returning as seniors this year, including all-league players Riley Davis and Weston Miller, to help lead the team.
In addition, Gehring saw even more commitment from his players in the off-season than years before with players participating in strength training as well as showing up every time there was an open gym.
The two biggest aspects of the program that Gehring has noticed as they work through the preseason are the players’ knowledge of the game and their willingness to buy in to whatever the coaching staff presents them—whether it’s new systems or just acceptance that fitness is key to the program’s success.
“This team has a better basketball IQ than I’ve seen in my 10 years of coaching,” says Gehring. “They’re so coachable and bring a positive energy to the gym, things you dream about as a coach. Five days into the season and we’re in the best shape of any other team I’ve had. It feels like we’re all on the same page.”
While the seniors will be the foundation upon which the Titans can build success, the junior class will be called upon as well to bring added energy and acumen to the floor. The Titans do have some size as well. Not overpowering height but good height across the board that will help the team adjust when need.
“Our junior class is small in numbers but strong as a class,” says Gehring. “It’s not like we’re a huge team but we do have consistent size and some big guards which will help in certain match ups.”
Expectations this year are in place as both the coaching staff and the players have their eyes set on a league title in a league that is notoriously strong in the state.
“Our goal every year is to win league and I’ve heard the boys talking about it,” says Gehring. “I think we have a lot of similar teams to us in the league and there’s an opportunity for a number of teams to seize the league title, but I certainly think we’re in the mix.”
The Titans are on a bit of a break for Thanksgiving and then return to workouts on Monday as they prepare for their first game of the year when they host Telluride on Friday, December 1. Tip-off for the varsity game is at 8 p.m.