Thorpe boys look to unravel mystery
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS The 20-12-13 Jim Thorpeboys basketball team is made up of: Front, from left, Raekwon Smith, Mike Harleston, Jordan McElmoyle and Alex Heydt. Middle row, same order, Mike Principe, Steve Principe, Ryan Saunders II and Deonte St. Hill. Back row, from left, David Everritt, Shane Snisky, Rayan Green, Jaquan Brown, Bryce Micciche and Khadir Lindsey.
Brian Carroll doesn't need to read any books by Agatha Christie, Mickey Spillane or Mary Higgins Clark.
Jim Thorpe's sixth-year head coach has a bona fide mystery right in front of his eyes.
With practically a new cast of characters from a year ago, the Olympians mentor has no idea how this season will end.
"The whole lineup is up from grabs," said Carroll. "Outside of Jaquan Brown, whose been a solid guy over the years and someone you can count on, all the other spots are pretty much up for grabs. I think the competitive balance and the talent level is pretty even between the players. You never know on a day-to-day basis who's going to sparkle.
"I think we'll be able to run a lot of guys out on the court, maybe up to 10 guys. But there's so many mysteries as to who can handle that varsity pressure because a lot of them haven't experienced it."
Brown, a 6-1 senior, averaged 4.27 points per game a year ago, when Thorpe posted a record of 7-15 record. He will probably start but who starts with him remains a question.
Gone are Darius Clark (13.77 ppg), Dane Civarella (9.77) and PJ Johnson (8.68). Khaaliq Lynch, meanwhile, remains out of action while recovering from a serious car accident.
"We have such a high turnover rate from last year and then when you lose, on paper, your best player in Khaaliq Lynch before the season even started, it makes it tough," said Carroll.
"I saw a lot of bright spots in our scrimmage but it's just a mystery this year. Our goal this year is to be in every game and put ourselves in a position to win games. We've got a lot of young faces and they need to learn how to gel and come together."
Mike Harleston isn't a young face, but the 5-7 senior hasn't played a bulk of minutes at the varsity level. He will battle for a starting spot in the backcourt and could possibly be at the point. Deonte St. Hill (5-7 junior), if healthy, and Ryan Saunders (5-9 junior) will also compete for time at the guard position with 6-2 junior Khadir Lindsey, who may also see time in the frontcourt.
Speaking of the frontcourt, junior Bryce Micciche, sophomores David Everritt and Shane Snisky, and freshman Rayan Green could actually combine to give the Olympians some depth in the paint.
"Actually this year for the first time we have a little more heighth than we've had in the past," said Carroll. "With Snisky, Green and Everritt, you're looking at 6-3 and 6-4 which for us is taller than what we've been. That should allow for a nice rotation with those guys.
"They give us a chance to keep the ball alive and maybe get those second and third shots they we haven't had in the past."
Despite not knowing his lineup, Carroll does know what will have to happen for his team to be successful.
"Early on in the season, we have to hope the defense takes over until the offense gets going and the players get used to playing with one another," he said. "On defense, we want to do anything that gets the game in an uptempo style. We don't want to be in a slowdown type of game.
"We only have three seniors on the team and it's a matter of getting the younger guys used to this varisty experience sooner than later because there's not a night off in the division (Schuylkill League Division 1). The division is as tough as always."
So what kind of year can be expected.
"I hate to keep saying it, but it's a mystery," said Carroll. "It's not going to be easy but we can be all right if we progress. I think we can be very competitive as the year goes in. Obviously we're going to fight for a playoff spot, that's always a goal to make the playoffs."