Most seasons, coach Matt Wadsworth devotes the first days of practice driving home the finer points of offensive and defensive schemes.
Not so this season.
Fueled by the return of four starters, the Whiteland boys basketball team literally hit the floor running on Day 1, already well-versed in Wadsworth’s system.
As a result, the Warriors’ have spent far more time refining than reviewing.
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“Out of my three seasons here, I think this has been the easiest year to start the year in terms of instilling our philosophy, offensively and defensively,” Wadsworth said. “This group has worked as hard as any team I’ve had in the offseason.”
It’s also one of the more experienced — a major plus for a team that lost its top two scorers and leading rebounder to graduation.
Leading the way among returners are junior Terr’e Moss, sophomore Michael Valle, senior Bryce Staker and junior Tom Purdie. All were all starters in some capacity last season, and all are expected to be full-time contributors this year.
Moss is a 5-foot-8 guard, and Valle, a 6-5 guard, were full-time starters last season. They averaged 6.0 and 4.0 points per game, respectively.
Staker, a 6-3 forward, and Purdie, a 6-4 forward, started about a dozen games last season. They had had respective scoring averages of 5.6 and 6.4 per game. Purdie also averaged 4.2 rebounds per game.
Garrett Herald, a 5-9 junior guard, is the only other returner with meaningful varsity experience. He played in 13 games last season in a backup role.
“I like the pieces we’ve got coming back,” Wadsworth said. “It’s always nice to return your starting backcourt.”
Other players in the mix for minutes are juniors Aaron Eblen, Will Higdon, Ben Robison and Gagendeep Sooch, and sophomore Anthony Schantz.
Eblin is a 6-2 forward. Higdon is a 6-foot guard. Robison is a 6-3 forward. Sooch is a 5-10 guard, and Shantz is a 5-10 guard.
“One of the things that I like about this year’s team that they’re really unselfish,” Wadsworth said. “They move the ball well, and I think when we work together offensively, we will have five guys on the court who can score.
“Defensively, we don’t have a 6-7 or 6-8 guy in the lineup, but I think we’ll benefit by having three or four guys that are 6-3 or 6-4 on the court at one time.”
Whiteland, coming off back-to-back 8-14 records, opens the season tonight at Mount Vernon (Fortville). The Class 4A Mauraders were 9-14 last season but were semistate runners-up in 2013.
“It’s a tough opponent to start the year with, but we like that challenge,” Wadsworth said. “It’ll help us in our (Mid-State) conference and county games.”
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Nov. 25;at Mount Vernon;7:30 p.m.
Nov. 29;Greenfield-Central;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 5;Plainfield;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 12;at Roncalli;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 13;Seymour;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 19;Center Grove;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 20;Greenwood Christian;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 27;at Perry Meridian;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 30;at Scottsburg;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 3;Bloomington North;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 10;at Greenwood;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 23;Franklin 7:30;p.m.
Jan. 30;at Mooresville;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 31;Columbus North;7:30 p.m.
Feb. 4;at Indian Creek;7:30 p.m.
Feb. 6;Decatur Central;7:30 p.m.
Feb. 14;at Shelbyville;2:30 p.m.
Feb. 20;at Martinsville;7:30 p.m.
Feb. 21;New Palestine;7:30 p.m.
Feb. 27;at Beech Grove;7:30 p.m.