As Richard Idleman takes over the reins of the Centre High School boys’ basketball team, he is faced with the task of nurturing a team that had few upperclassmen the previous year.
The varsity ended the season with a disappointing 1-6 record in the Wheat State League and 3-17 overall.
Idleman said the youth of the previous team would be a benefit this year.
“A few members of this year’s team were able to get valuable playing time at the varsity level due to a lack of upperclassmen last season,” he said.
Idleman has 20 years of previous coaching experience, including youth leagues, middle school, and high school. His career at Centre began in 2010-11, when he was an assistant girls’ coach. He spent the past two years as assistant to boys’ coach Greg Wyatt, who retired from coaching last spring after 31 years.
Phil Duerksen is his assistant.
This year’s team includes six letterwinners. Nathaniel Engler, a 5-foot-10 forward, is the only senior.
Juniors include 6-1 shooting guard Dylan Deines, 6-1 forward Brendon Bina, and 6-0 forward Cole Methvin.
Cole Srajer, a 5-7 sophomore, will start in the point guard position. Sophomore Cody Svoboda, the tallest player at 6-3, will play center.
Other players with promise, Idleman said, include forward Daniel Rudolph, a 5-8 junior; forward Max Svoboda, a 5-9 sophomore; and shooting guard Xavier Espinoza, a 5-8 freshman.
Filling out the roster are junior James Spohn; sophomores CJ Thompson, Zach Barney, Austin Peterson, Bryce Brunner, and Tanner Peterson; and freshmen Tyson Chizek and Tanner Wiggans.
With just one senior on the squad, Idleman hopes he and Duerksen can develop leadership among the underclassmen while preparing the new varsity-level players for the season.
“Our goal is to be competitive and not lose sight of what we are looking to accomplish as a young team,” Idleman said. “That is, to be supportive of one another while working through the season and to experience a winning season. I believe as the season goes forward the team will start to gain chemistry to better help us come time for sub-state.”
Idleman believes Solomon will be the “odds on” favorite to win the league.
“We, of course, will face a solid opponent each time we step onto the court,” he said. “There’s no game on our schedule that we can afford to overlook.”
The team’s first game is Friday at Central Christian in Hutchinson.