With one season under his belt at the helm of the Geneseo High School boys’ basketball team, head coach Dave Martin is ready to see what this year’s group can do.

With one season under his belt at the helm of the Geneseo High School boys’ basketball team, head coach Dave Martin is ready to see what this year’s group can do.

“I’m excited, I love basketball and I love being around the guys,” said Martin of starting his second season at Geneseo. “That is why I coach because I love being around the players.”

With the success of the high school football team, the Leafs are not practicing at 100 percent, but coach Martin said with the players he has practices have been going great and the Leafs are getting a lot of reps.

And with their Thanksgiving Basketball Tournament right around the corner, missing players could pose a problem for the Leafs.

“With four games in five days  and not having the numbers, depth is always an issue and a concern,” said Martin. “But it is a great position to be in (missing players due to the success of the football team) for our school.”

The Leafs will return six seniors when the team is at full strength in Devan DePauw, Michael Ashpole, Sam Hamer, Jonathan Staab, Chase VanOpdorp and Jason Johnson.

“We did get a lot of the juniors playing time last year and they were forced to play a lot as juniors,” said Martin. “I hope to see the complete buy in to the system, for them to be good teammates and for them to be accountable to each other.”

The Leafs return two juniors who have varsity experience in Blake?Croegaert and Billy Hamer.
The juniors joining the varsity ranks for the first time are Tyler Fisher, Andrew Denney, Connor Johnson, Mike Swynenberg, Jared Kuban and Anthony Roome.

“After being in the program for a few years, Blake and Billy know the expectations,” said Martin. “I expect the other juniors to compete for playing time and the big thing they need to learn is the speed of the game because there is a big difference between varsity and sophomore. The juniors were exposed to varsity level play in the summer and I just hope they adjust. I want them to come out and compete.”

The expectations coach Martin has for this year’s squad, well Martin said he is not a big expectation guy.

“I expect the guys to come and work hard everyday and good things will happen if you work hard,” said Martin. “And  they have to buy into the program. I think they have bought into the philosophy. Basketball is fun because you work together on a common goal and accomplish it.”

The strengths of this year’s Leafs will be their size and experience.

“We are still a pretty big team and we have experience this year not like last year,” said Martin. “We have six or seven guys who have varsity experience and last year we had two, so compared to last year we have more experience. But experience doesn’t win games. Teammates working together wins games. And I fully expect the younger guys to compete for spots.

“Our size will be good and we have some guys who can defend and some really good guards. A strength will be our defense and the intangibles.”

Coach Martin said he doesn’t like to focus on the team’s weaknesses since they haven’t played a game yet.

“We are going in excited, they have worked and have put themselves in the position to be successful,” said Martin.

Fans can expect an open race in the NCIC this year as most teams graduated a lot of players.

“The league is pretty wide open,” said Martin. “LaSalle-Peru has a lot of guys back and Sterling is always tough, but we are right in the mix. Our goal is to compete for the conference championship.”

Geneseo finished last year with an overall record of 14-14 and a conference mark of 3-7. In postseason action, the Leafs upset Galesburg in round one, 59-52, but then fell in the regional title game to Rock Island, 70-54.

The?Leafs open the 2009-10 season against Alleman at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 24 in the Geneseo Thanksgiving Tournament.

“I am looking forward to getting into the bulk of the season because the first few weeks are a blur,” said Martin. “I want us to get settled in and see what we need to get done.

“I have no idea what to expect from Alleman because they have a new coach. We need to go in and play and worry about ourselves.”