Boys basketball preview: Greenwood Woodmen

<p>It wasn’t until the 11th game of the 2018-19 boys basketball season that Greenwood found its identity.</p>
<p>And in a loss, no less.</p>
<p>Faced with the daunting challenge of playing Center Grove in a county tournament semifinal, Woodmen players excelled at both ends of the floor, taking advantage of driving lanes, making the extra pass and locking down defensively.</p>
<p>Greenwood lost, 57-52, in double overtime to the eventual Class 4A semistate qualifier.</p>[sc:text-divider text-divider-title="Story continues below gallery" ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery
<p>But the six periods of basketball on a neutral floor also proved to be a victory, as the newfound confidence allowed coach Joe Bradburn’s squad to win four of its next six games.</p>
<p>“I think that from that point on we played pretty well. We finished out the year competing against some really good teams,” Bradburn said. “That’s the turning point we all had.”</p>
<p>Guard Bryce Hoffman and center Gavin Dowling, now seniors, will be counted on to carry the confidence into this season, which begins Friday night at New Castle. The 6-foot-1 Hoffman averaged 11.7 points a game as a junior, while the 6-4 Dowling scored 11.3 and grabbed 5.3 rebounds.</p>
<p>“Bryce is definitely fearless, but he has two different ways about him,” Bradburn said. “He takes over when he needs to, but he’s very humble and a team-oriented guy. Bryce is a leader from that standpoint because he sets people up and wants others to have success as well.”</p>
<p>Dowling and 6-3 junior forward Rasheed Elemikan (3.6 ppg) have the potential to give the Woodmen a quality interior presence. Bradburn also likes the energy 6-4 senior forward Spencer Aaron (3.3) brings to the floor, whether he’s starting or one of the first off the Greenwood bench.</p>
<p>“We’re still going to be an inside-out type of team, and I think we’re going to be a balanced team,” Bradburn said. “There’s going to be different nights when guys step up. But I think a lot of the offense has to run through Gavin and Rasheed.</p>
<p>“Gavin is a very skilled, talented kid who has good size and good footwork. We’re expecting big things from him.”</p>
<p>Two more seniors, guard Ian Raker and forward Nick Duffey, return with varsity experience. Bradburn said juniors Charlie Brooks and Ty Moore could be a factor, along with sophomore guard Brock Kincaid (4.5).</p>
<p>Greenwood’s scoring balance a year ago left seven players averaging between three and 12 points per outing. Bradburn won’t be surprised if the same thing happens this season.</p>
<p>“I think balance is a strength. I think our chemistry and the culture of our team are strengths,” he said. “I’ve been to a couple different stops, and normally the third year is when you start developing the culture that you want.</p>
<p>“I feel good about our guys. We have interaction with each other and the energy is good.”</p>[sc:pullout-title pullout-title="Scouting the Woodmen" ][sc:pullout-text-begin]<p><strong>Scouting the Woodmen</strong></p>
<p>Coach: Joe Bradburn (third season)</p>
<p>Last season: 9-14, lost to Center Grove in first round of Class 4A sectional</p>
<p>Key returnees: Spencer Aaron, Gavin Dowling, Bryce Hoffman and Ian Raker, seniors; Rasheed Elemikan, junior; Brock Kincaid, sophomore</p>
<p>Top newcomers: Nick Duffy, senior; Charlie Brooks and Ty Moore, juniors; Gavin Ruppert, sophomore</p>
<p>What to expect: Eight of the Woodmen’s losses a year ago were by 10 or fewer points, but senior leaders Hoffman and Dowling lead a veteran squad looking to find ways to win the close games. Aaron and Elemikan are expected to help beneath the basket, while Raker and Kincaid bring experience to the backcourt. Six of Greenwood’s nine games before the county tournament are on the road.</p>[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title="3 points with Bryce Hoffman" ][sc:pullout-text-begin]<p><strong>1. Besides your own, what’s your favorite gym to play in?</strong></p>
<p>Edinburgh. It’s like a bowl where fans are surrounding you. I certainly feel a lot more energized throughout the game. And the goals are in the ground rather than being supported up top.</p>
<p><strong>2. Which nonconference opponent are you most looking forward to playing?</strong></p>
<p>I guess Center Grove because the atmosphere is always good. But I’m excited to play at New Castle this season, too. I’ve never played there before.</p>
<p><strong>3. If you could steal one skill from one of your teammates, what would it be?</strong></p>
<p>Rasheed’s athleticism. He has great jumping ability and is wildly aggressive. He dunked the ball two or three times in JV games last year.</p>[sc:pullout-text-end]