Chemistry is key for revamped Olympians
Jim Thorpe boys basketball team members include, front row, from left, Justin Cannariato, Zach Searfoss, Roberto Santiago, Caiden Hurley and Tyler Burak. Back row, Josh Davis, Chris Condly, Adam Lauer, Nate Roshac, James Adames and Gavin Fikentscher. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
When your varsity roster graduates 17 seniors in the last two years, that much turnover might suggest that team chemistry could be a major concern.
Not so much for Jim Thorpe head coach, Jason McElmoyle.
Gone from last year’s 12-10 district playoff squad are top scorer, Justin Marykwas, along with starters Nick Rosahac and Chris Valdez.
McElmoyle believes the strength of this year’s edition of JT hoops will be their willingness to play together as one cohesive unit.
“So far, what I really like about our team is their unselfish play and their patience to work the ball until they get the best look at the basket,” McElmoyle noted.
Returning to anchor the post position is 6-6 Nate Rosahac, who averaged 10 points and seven rebounds a games last season. The starting guards will be Zack Searfoss and Tyler Burak, who both saw quality court time a year ago.
“Nate knows the game very well, and Zack’s leadership is evident in that he has a calming influence on the rest of the team, and he distributes the ball to the open man, too,” said McElmoyle.
McElmoyle describes Burak as a “change of pace” guard who can penetrate and get into the paint.
Sophomore Caiden Hurley is a pass-first guard, but he also possesses an excellent outside shot.
“He can run the show and direct traffic to get us into position for good looks at the basket,” McElmoyle said.
Rounding out the starting five is junior James Adames.
“James is our high-energy guy,” said McElmoyle. “His motor never stops, and he mixes things up offensively, so we won’t be very predictable.”
McElmoyle believes he has a bevy of outside shooters to put points on the board to replace last season’s dead-eye three-point shooting from Marykwas. One target of improvement will be JT’s free throw shooting, which finished at 50 percent last winter.
“In our first scrimmage against Weatherly, I really liked our patience on offense,” McElmoyle said. “During one possession, we passed the ball seven times before we scored. That’s a great example of good team chemistry. We have no egos, and our seniors are pushing the younger players to stay involved with the flow of the game.”
McElmoyle likes to call his defensive half-court pressure “organized chaos.” He favors man-to-man, but will switch to zone depending upon what he sees as an opponent’s weakness.
Before McElmoyle took over the program, Jim Thorpe had a 5-39 record in the previous two years. In five years under his tenure, he has directed the Olympians to 48 victories and three consecutive playoff appearances. He likes this team’s mix and expects improvement each and every game.
His concern is a lack of varsity experience for some of his players, but he’s confident that game-by-game, their seasoning will have them playing good basketball when it comes to the cutoff date for the district playoffs.
“We seem to never be one of the favorites in our league, and that’s fine with us,” he remarked. “ We’ll lie in the weeds, and I think we can surprise some people this year.”
With a proven track record of success, no one should be surprised if Jim Thorpe finds itself in postseason play again this year.