Fritz, veteran club hoping to bring Colts success
Members of this season’s Marian boys basketball team include, front row from left, Vincent Pan, Joey Wargo, Chris Ritsick, Will Nyer, Chris Chambers, Logan Fritz, Patrick Cervasio; back row, Zack Hnat, Dante Agosti, John Malarkey, Julian Cerullo Tyler Fritz and Jaryn Eroh. PHOTO COURTESY JOE WICKERSHAM
The Tyler Fritz era is about to raise the curtain for the final time.
The 6-3 swing player for the Marian basketball team has been nothing short of sensational throughout a stellar career. His impact from Day 1 has seemed omnipotent-like.
Fritz hit the scene as a thin, frail freshman who could shoot deftly, play with abandon and never got caught up in the moment. Fritz has earned honors henceforth; all-state, all-league and has achieved the 1,000-point scoring career plateau, too.
John Patton, the Colts head coach, always knew he had a special player the day he came to the hallowed halls at Marian.
“It’s fun to watch a kid like Tyler Fritz play, and you really don’t need all the X’s and O’s. His basketball instincts and IQ are pure,” said Patton, now in his 10th season guiding the Colts.
Marian has a proud basketball tradition, which ironically came to the fore under Fritz’s grandfather, Bob Fulton, back in 1972 when he came to the Hometown school.
With Fritz, the Colts return four starters from last year’s 12-11 squad. Also back are senior and sharpshooting whiz Chris Ritsick (5-7), junior John Malarkey (6-0) and another pure outside shooter in junior Dante Agosti (5-11). The fifth starter will likely be sophomore Logan Fritz (5-10), who heads the point and can let it fly, too.
“No matter what (year) it is there’s still a learning curve,” said Patton. “(Some) of these guys have been playing together for three years, so we’re expecting a lot out of them as far as offense and defense.”
Patton wants up-tempo, run the floor, and look to shoot whenever the opportunity presents itself. Ritsick surely has the touch from the arc, as he’s displayed that for a few seasons now. And Patton has a horde of confidence in his ability.
“He’s smart, and knows when to take the shot,” said Patton. “Chris isn’t the type of kid to force a shot; he has that (court) awareness and knows and feels things, and that’s pure instinct. You don’t (coach) that.”
Where Marian would seem to have a shortcoming is in the height department. And in basketball, height can be critical.
Still, Patton isn’t pushing any buttons.
“We’ve got athletes, kids that will go to the boards and bang,” said Patton. “Yeah, we’re not very tall, but we’re smart, and if we shoot well and run the floor, that will be a huge help.”
Transition obviously will be a key for the Colts without that size. If they gallop enough times up and down the floor for easy layups, that’s going to put a lot of pressure on the opposition.
“We’ve got to get touches in the paint to keep people from just keying on our shooters from the outside,” said Patton, who will use a four-guard set and will be running the floor. “I told the (other) guys (who aren’t starting) we’re going to need help from our bench if we’re going to play at the pace.”
The three-point shooters are the key, and Patton says that if his players are going to take the shots, they’ve got to “check their conscience at the door and not think about the shots that are missed.”
While that’s the game-changer for the Colts, Patton knows all of his guys can get to the rack and drive it inside. He feels this squad is mature enough to sense those things when the ball isn’t falling.
“There are going to be nights like that (when) we’re not making the (outside) shots, so we cannot, we cannot, have empty defensive possessions,” stressed Patton. “We’ve got to be able to challenge (teams) on the defensive end, and if we challenge them and they make the shots, so be it.”
Bench players expected to see time are Patrich Cervasio (5-11), Jaryn Eroh (6-1), Nick Goff (6-3) Zach Hnat (6-1) and Joe Wargo (5-7), as well as newcomer Chris Chambers (5-9).
Look for the Colts to put a lot of full court pressure, or half-court, depending on the situation. Patton calls this edition smart, quick and athletic, but the lack of height isn’t a huge concern.