Maple Leafs striving to grow this season

Chris Steele
The Maple Leafs' Charlie Clauson, left, Isaiah Rivera, center, and Jacob 
McConnell run a drill to work on their footwork during Geneseo's first practice 
of the season. Geneseo will start the season with the Geneseo Central Bank Thanksgiving Tournament against Rockridge on Monday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.

Getting back to basics is what Geneseo Coach Brad Storm wants from the Maple Leafs’ basketball program.

Storm wants to see more than just fundamental changes on the court for Geneseo this season. He wants to see a change in the overall mentality of the Maple Leafs’ players.

“It’s kind of a fresh start for our program which is exciting,” Storm said. “We are trying to change our overall approach. We want to make sure we have kids who want to be here and do what’s needed to be able to compete. I think we are getting to that point now.”

Geneseo returns a group of six juniors with varsity experience and four sophomores who will be newcomers to varsity play.

“We aren’t writing off any games this year,” Storm said. “We know it’s going to be a struggle with a lot of growing pains and a learning process. It’s an interesting challenge.”

With a lot of unknowns to start the season, Isaiah Rivera proved he was capable of anything last season.

A junior, Rivera scored 40 points and was named the Prep Hoops Illinois Player of the Week last season.

One of the top recruits in the state of Illinois, Rivera will be the focal point of every team’s defense this season.

“I think he knows what to expect this year in terms of the way teams approach him,” Storm said. “The rest of our guys are so inexperienced, teams will try to shut (Rivera) down and hope that is enough. I think he’s interested in finding ways we can combat that.”

Geneseo will look for several options to take the burden off of Rivera’s shoulders.

“I think last year with our perimeter shooting teams could leave us alone,” Storm said. “This year, I think we have some guys who can knock the shots down.”

Storm said Jacob McConnell has improved his outside shooting for this season, and P.J. Moser and Kyle Traphagen are newcomer Storm thinks will open up the offense.