Mick Stefanek is no stranger when it comes to TIMES NEWS Area boys basketball circles.
Stefanek, who took over the Palmerton boys basketball program over the summer, was a highly successful head coach at Marian High School before resigning and taking a year off away from the game. And now he is in charge of the boys program in the same school district he teaches in.
The Blue Bombers return a group of experienced players who have grown as a unit over the years and Stefanek hopes to see some of the veterans through what he hopes will be a rewarding season.
"I feel I've been shown a tremendous amount of respect by the kids and I think it's part of them being familiar with me," he noted. "Many of them, the seniors especially, I've taught in the classroom five years ago and I've taught all of them over the past few years so it's been a great experience so far."
One of the things the Bombers have is experience playing together, now Stefanek wants them to get some winning experience.
"It's a great senior class, it's a great group of kids," Stefanek pointed out. "They're quality kids, come from quality backrounds and they're an asset to not just the school, but the community and their families. There's no issues, there's no problems, there's no worries that I have. I have seven seniors and they're all great kids. One of my main reasons for taking this job is because of the senior group. So we'll build around them and hopefully have a couple of underclassmen fit in and come up with a nice rotation."
Stefanek is looking at Brett Snyder, a 5-9 senior at point guard and to be the floor leader. Ben Andrews, a 6-2 senior, could be a swingman who could play guard and could also be pushed down to a forward spot if needed as a double threat. He's a strong rebounder, goes after the ball and Stefanek feels he could do damage down in the post.
Cody Geist, a 5-11 senior will also be interchangeable as a guard or forward and 6-0 senior Tyler Svetik who will man a forward spot and 6-3 senior Kyle Ruch, who can play either guard or forward, will be the other three starters.
"Coming off the bench we'll have senior Gabe Leon, who should see quality minutes," added Stefanek. "He's a heckuva defender and probably the best in the program right now.
"Mike Horvath, a 6-1 senior, we're looking at possibly getting some minutes. Juniors Matt Leaver and Austin Luers, 6-2 freshman Mark Quinn and 5-11 sophomore Logan Lesher who we'll get in the mix."
Stefanek is taking a realistic approach into the season.
"A winning record is doable," he said. "I have faith in these kids that we can get this done this year because I truly want these seniors to go out with a good and a winning experience.
"Getting better as the season goes on is a goal of ours as well as playing meaningful games when February roles around."
Size might hurt the Bombers on some nights, but quite a bit of offense returning amongst the seniors. Stefanek feels that the key to the season will be the defense, where Stefanek has been making the most changes.
"This season is truly about these kids and what I can do and the coaching staff can do to make this season rewarding and an exciting year," he said. "Coming off a 8-14 season, I'd love to see us go .500 or better and be in the mix in our division and let these seniors have a very, very, very good last year."