Scotus Boys Basketball 2018-19: Still aiming high
Coach Tyler Swanson and Scotus Central Catholic boys basketball won’t shy away from the topic.
The state tournament is the goal.
Its a bold objective for a program that managed its lowest win total in six years last season. The Shamrocks don’t think so.
A strong core of talent remains, and with a few more fortunate bounces, SCC believes it can get back to the business of winning.
“Last year was about not being able to finish games,” Swanson said Tuesday before practice. “We had two games we lost by double digits, other than that, we were in every game.
“We were in the fourth quarter and had teams pull away from us.”
Scotus won eight games in 2017-18. After win totals of greater than 20 in the previous four years, and winning seasons in the previous five, SCC had its lowest total since the 2011-12 group also went 8-15.
It was quite the step back from four straight state tournaments, a runner-up finish and two third-place trophies.
And, as Swanson said, it was quite frustrating.
Scotus lost to David City Aquinas to end the season after beating the Monarchs to end the regular season schedule just five nights earlier, struggled with an inconsistent offense most nights and opened the year 1-6.
Scotus won its next two after that poor opening stretch but then lost five straight.
It was a little bit of a learning experience for a team that returned just two players with any real starting minutes. The Class of 2017 included eight members, two of which averaged double-figure scoring, and another who added nine points per game.
Adjusting to new roles and more minutes then might explain some of it.
This time around, there are more players familiar with varsity competition and hungry to show that the year before was simply an anomaly.
“This year we’ve got four or five guys with experience, and we have a group of sophomores that are going to do some good things for us,” Swanson said. “But those older guys have to learn how to win games, especially in our conference. You really don’t get a day off in our conference.”
The Centennial Conference sent Lincoln Christian and Grand Island Central Catholic a to state a year ago in Class C-1 and Hastings St. Cecilia in C-2.
The schedule also included Class B tourney team Crete, C-1 tourney teams Boone Central/Newman Grove and Wahoo and four other opponents with winning records, all of which won 12 games or more.
It was quite the ringer, and will be again.
“We have to be able to win those close games. Last year, we could have easily been 15-8 instead of 8-15,” Swanson said.
“It’s an expectation now for us to win 15, 20 games. I think these guys feel that way, too. We’ve had some good classes come through in the last four, five years. That leaves the expectations high. We don’t bring those back down.”
Added depth will help in that regard. Early on, Scotus may go 12 deep while Swanson sorts out just who works where and who deserves what role.
Playing eight or nine is a realistic possibility once those eight or nine identify themselves.
And that may take some time. Scotus is dealing with injuries left over from football season and may have to send more inexperience out to the floor at least in the early going. Because of that, the Shamrocks may not have a handle on just who works with who until the calendar flips.
Four of the top eight have either been missing or limited in practice.
Regardless, Scotus will be somewhat on the shorter side but with perhaps a better ability to score.
The Rocks scored fewer than 50 points in 11 games last season.
“We didn’t have that last year,” Swanson said. “We’re definitely more athletic in terms of guys that can defend different positions. Some of our better athletes are juniors now.
“That’s going to be a big help for us. We’ll play more zone with guys that aren’t as athletic, and we’ll play more man with guys that are.”
Complicating matters is an opening schedule that includes St. Cecilia to start then GICC a week later, and, due to the injuries, Scotus could be rather rusty.
“I think we’re going to have a lot of young guys who’ve been getting the game minutes here lately,” Swanson said. “Hopefully it translates into game situations for our younger guys who have been out here more.”
But, as has been established lately, there won’t be any backing down. The Shamrocks are looking to earn their way back to Pinnacle Bank Arena.
“We just expect it. We expect to win our sub-district and play in sub-state,” Swanson said. “You win that game, you’re in the state tournament.”
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org