Extreme makeover expected for Colts
Special to the TIMES NEWS Members of the Marian boys basketball team for the 2013-14 season include, front row from left, John Woitko, Matt Karnish, Dominic Mussoline, Austin Paisley, Ethan Kuczynski, Christian Legath, Nico Agosti; back row, Patrick Latham, Anthony Agosti, Kyle Swetz, Nick Wesner, John Inama, Mike Vercusky, Chris Weber and Ian Myers.
Marian head coach John Patton doesn't believe in the concept of "rebuilding," but take one quick glance of this year's roster and you'll quickly realize that an extreme makeover is coming to Colt Country.
If you're looking for familiar names, you won't find many.
If you're searching for experience and statistics, you'll find even less.
At this point, there are more questions than answers surrounding this year's team, which makes Patton's job of finding an "identity" for his program all the more difficult.
Coming off an 18-6 season, the Colts will need to replace four starters and five of their top six scorers from last year's team.
Of the 14 players on this year's roster, only six played in a varsity game, and of those six, there is only one player (Anthony Agosti) who played in more than nine games or scored more than seven points last season.
"This is the second time in my four years as head coach that we're going to be entering a season with Anthony Agosti as the only returning starter," stated Patton. "Right now, we have a roster full of inexperienced kids that are being given an opportunity to step up and show us what they have.
"It's a process that's probably going to take some time, and we understand that. However, with a tough early season schedule, we need to grow up in a hurry and we need to find a group that's cohesive enough to keep us in games."
With a roster full of interchangeable parts, the one constant is 5-11 senior point guard Anthony Agosti. Last season, Agosti was third on the team averaging 8.38 points per game, was second on the team in rebounds (139), and was first on the team in assists (96) and steals (43). A jack-of-all-trades, Agosti will be counted on heavily this season, not only for his basketball skills but also for his senior leadership.
"There's no doubt that Anthony is the centerpiece of our team, but we don't expect to use him exclusively. There are four other guys on the court that we need to work around him and depend on.
"But with that being said, Anthony is an incredibly gifted athlete and he's our most consistent offensive and defensive player. He can handle the ball, shoot the ball, drive the ball, rebound the ball and guard the guy with the ball. He's just an all-around good player that we're counting on to lead this team."
As for the rest of the starting lineup, Patton has been tight-lipped, but part of the reason for that might be the level of uncertainty associated with such a young and inexperienced roster.
"It's going to be Anthony and a band of others," added Patton. "Anthony's earned his position and everyone else on this team still needs to prove themselves. I honestly don't have a starting lineup right now that I'm totally comfortable with."
After losing Ryan Karnish (13.48 points per game, 55 three-pointers), Alden Whah (9.91 ppg, 12.8 rebounds per game), Nick Kweder, Damian Richards and Eric Swankowski to graduation it's evident the Colts inexperienced players will have to grow up fast.
Leading the pack for playing time (along with Anthony Agosti) will be a trio of juniors who started on last year's JV team: 5-10 forward Nico Agosti, 6-1 forward Mike Vercusky and 5-11 guard Nick Wesner. Combined, those three players have a total of 10 games of varsity experience and two total points.
The other starting spot at the moment looks to be a revolving door between six different players: junior guard Matt Karnish, sophomore guard Dominic Mussoline, sophomore forward Kyle Swetz, and three freshmen (guard Ethan Kuczynski, and forwards Ian Myers and Josh Inama).
"With the makeup of this team, I don't know if we have shooters to be a mainly perimeter-shooting team like last year, nor do I think we have enough size (only one player taller than 6-1) to dominate the inside game. We have to find ways to score that suit our strengths, but we're still in the process of finding out what those are."
As Patton cultivates a young roster he hopes will develop with time, there is no doubt that this year's team will be a work in progress.
"Trying to replace one or two players is tough, but trying to replace five or six is yeoman's work," concluded Patton.