Coach Darrel Knoll doesn’t have to worry who his floor leader will be this season. Senior Micah Allen is the only returning starter from last year’s 20-4 Hillsboro basketball team, and he’ll play the point and run the offense.
As for the four other starting spots? Knoll’s not worried about those, either. Filling them is an evolving process.
“There will be competition going on all year for those spots,” Knoll said. “They’re all working hard to find their spots, so it’s hard for me to say exactly how everything’s shaking out on who’s going to start and who’s not.”
Allen’s past varsity play demonstrates the attitude Knoll looks for in a team leader.
“He’s got a real desire to win, so he’ll play hard and lead by example,” Knoll said of the 6-foot-1 guard. “He’s got a good understanding of the game. He’s played varsity the last couple of years, so he understands how we want to set up our offense. From that standpoint I think he’ll do well getting the guys to the right spots and being a good leader on the floor.”
Senior guard Grant Knoll, senior forwards Josh Funk and David Dick, and junior center Austin Cross are leading candidates for starting spots, and their experience should allow the Trojans to play Knoll’s preferred style of ball.
“I think we can run similar stuff to what we’ve run the last few years,” Knoll said. “Obviously we don’t want to turn the ball over. We need to make sure we’re working hard screening and cutting for each other, get shots around the basket as much as possible, and make sure we’re working it inside out.”
When the ball goes inside, the 6-foot-5 Cross should be more effective this season, Knoll said.
“Austin Cross has a better understanding of the game,” he said. “Last year was the first year he played, and he’s gotten a lot more athletic around the rim. I’ve seen some really good improvement out of him.”
Knoll said his players have the talent to play up-tempo and in half-court sets.
“We have the speed to push the ball on offense,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of guys that can knock down shots. We’ll be fine as long as we work together to create the shots we want and make sure we’re going to the glass. We’ll have enough guys who can put the ball in the basket that we’ll be fine.”
The Trojans will depend on man-to-man defense, but Knoll will throw in zones and presses as situations warrant.
“We always have a zone or two in place, and how much we use those depends on what we need for whoever we’re playing,” he said. “You always have to adjust the press to fit the personnel. At this point, we’re still looking to see what kind of and how much pressure we’ll put on with this particular team.”
Whatever the defensive set may be, Knoll expects the team to take care of the basics.
“Defensively we’ve just got to be tough,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re taking care of the paint, taking care of the boards. Those are fundamentals we’ll continue to push.”
Confident he has players to execute his plans, Knoll still has to determine the best mix.
“We’re a different kind of athleticism than we were last year, but we still have solid guys,” he said. “Each guy has things they do well. It’s just a matter of getting them in the game and understanding how to get it done.
“I think we’ll find a combination where we can be successful. We just have to adjust things to fit personnel and experience.”
The team’s first game will be at home Dec. 5 against Nickerson.