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Lindberg equipped with senior-loaded squad at Bremerton
Kerkhoff returns to King’s West, this time to coach boys team.
While the Warriors turn to former King’s West girls coach David Kerkhoff to now guide the boys team to postseason success, Bremerton is ready for an Olympic League run under the watch of coach Casey Lindberg.
Both the Warriors and Knights are optimistic entering the 2008-09 season, each looking to finish somewhere near the top in their respective leagues.
For King’s West, Kerkhoff is a proven winner, having guided the Port Townsend boys and King’s West girls to numerous state tournament berths in previous coaching stints.
Lindberg’s team is loaded with seniors, most of whom played at the varsity level last season. And with scoring machine Eli Olson graduated, the seniors will look to score by committee, spelling each other, to fill the hole left by Olson’s departure.
Here’s a look at each team as they prepare for the regular season.
Bremerton: It’s all about the seniors
Simply put, Bremerton needs to play better in the third quarter if it wants to compete in the Olympic League.
The Knights were outscored in 13 of their 20 games during the third quarter last season, often times losing big leads after a quality first half.
“Our problem last year was our third quarter,” Lindberg said. “You can’t go in (to the third quarter) flat.”
Lindberg tried everything to fix the post halftime problem; he took the team into the locker room, left them on the floor and experimented with about everything in between.
It just didn’t work.
“We tried everything under the sun,” Lindberg said. “Teams are funny, you just never know.”
So the 2008-09 Knights are looking to put together 32 minutes of solid basketball. And to do that, Lindberg expects somebody different to step up each night.
“Ideally, every night we have the potential to have four or five guys in double figures,” Lindberg said.
He said to expect a fast-paced, baseline-to-baseline style of play from BHS this season. He hopes to keep the players fresh — and the opponents off balance — by substituting frequently, about every four minutes.
“I gotta get them to buy into the fact that that’s what we’re going to do,” Lindberg said. “What I envision right now is lots of kids with playing time, lots of energy and hopefully no letdowns when we substitute.”
Lindberg has no shortage of athleticism, with football players Michael Powell, Theo Robinson and Josh Koets all figuring to play key roles. Couple that with the team having nine seniors and the ingredients for a solid season are there.
“We’re looking OK,” Lindberg said. “I think we’ll be competitive.”
Derek Bennett, J’Tonn Dale, Terrance McGhee and Terrick McGhee all should see quality minutes joining Andre Coleman, Jordan Driskell, Jarell Flora, Kevin Smith, Charles Wilson and Rashawn Kendrick to complete the roster.
“The luxury we have is we have 10 or 12 guys who are good, they are all solid,” Lindberg said. “I’m comfortable with all of them. That’s how a coach loves it because if somebody’s not playing well, I’m comfortable putting somebody else in who I know can do the job.”
And with most of the players, especially the seniors, having shared a locker room for a couple seasons, the team is tight-knit.
“We’ll have good cohesion I think, which is a huge deal,” Lindberg said. “The cool thing about these guys is they are all friends ... They hang out together ... they’re not reluctant to give up the ball, they’re not reluctant to take one for the team.”
And for the Knights, those intangibles — friendship, cohesion, togetherness — should be an added advantage and only serve to help the team.
“They are all good kids, good athletes, it should be a fun year,” Lindberg said.
Lindberg hopes to see parity throughout the Olympic League, giving his squad a chance to compete each game.
“I think there should be some good games, regardless of whether you’re 3A or 2A,” Lindberg said. “I think you’ll see some 2A teams beat 3A teams, just hopefully not this 3A team.”
The Knights tip off the season at home against South Kitsap at 7 p.m. Nov. 29.
King’s West: Former coach begins new era
Coach David Kerkhoff wants to visit his favorite hamburger joint in Spokane in May 2009.
Yes, for the food, but more importantly, because the Class 2B Boys State Basketball Tournament is played in Spokane.
“Somebody came in and asked, ‘Are we gonna play .500 ball this year?’” Kerkhoff said before practice Wednesday. “No, my goal is to play in March. I think with their attitudes and speed on the floor, they’ll have a chance.”
Kerkhoff returns to King’s West, where he previously coached alongside now-departed Bryan Hanley to lead the girls team to four state tournaments, with big-time expectations after a one-year break from coaching.
He’s also logged stints at Port Townsend and Bainbridge, having coached in some fashion or another since 1961 when he was just a senior in high school.
“I feel great, I’m glad to be back,” Kerkhoff said, coming off shoulder surgery.
The transition from couch to coach won’t be easy, but Kerkhoff is confident he can steer the Warriors to success. The team has a solid nucleus of returnees, but star senior Drew McCullough is out four to six weeks after surgery to repair his meniscus.
“It’s bittersweet,” Kerkhoff said of losing McCullough. “It’s good for the team to learn to play without him, to rely on themselves. When he comes back as a piece of the team, I think they’ll grow well together. But I hate to lose anybody for that amount of time.”
McCullough, who Kerkhoff expects back sometime in January, led the team in scoring last season and can play any position on the floor.
“We just need to be patient, he needs to take his time,” Kerkhoff said. “I don’t want him to try too hard (to get back).”
So the onus falls on key returners such as sophomore Josh Kreifels and junior Chase Estes, both of whom have previously contributed but not carried the burden of leading.
“I think there are a number of kids who on any given night can help us,” Kerkhoff said.
Estes, who is undersized, makes up for what he lacks in build with athleticism and a scrappy style of play.
“When I see him I always think his ankles are above my eyes,” Kerkhoff said of Estes. “He’s coming along, he loves the sport.”
But Estes, too, is slowed by sore ankles, which continue to heal after a grueling soccer season.
Kreifels isn’t big either, but like Estes, he is quick with — and without — the ball and gained valuable experience as a freshman last season.
“He runs the floor well, he’s a good leader, he shoots well,” Kerkhoff said.
At 6 feet 2 inches, senior Sam Weldin provides height along with 6-foot-3 center Jared Wright, who continues to hit the weights.
“He’s getting bigger, we just have to have him play against some big guys,” Kerkhoff said of Wright.
But the Warriors lack of height doesn’t worry Kerkhoff because the team is both fast and strong, traits which should cater to his run-and-gun, full-court pressure style of play.
“We lift weights, we pump a lot of iron,” Kerkhoff said. “We might be little, but we’re pretty strong.”
Kerkhoff said the team most likely will use an eight-man rotation. But with just a week of practice in the books, it’s too early to tell.
One thing, however, is certain; Kerkhoff expects each player on the team to play with tenacity on both ends of the floor, particularly on defense.
“We do everything,” he said. “Our base defense is, ‘In your face.’”
Tacoma Baptist, who the Warriors don’t face until after the holidays, is the early favorite to win the 2B SeaTac League.
“It’ll give us an idea of how we match up,” Kerkhoff said of the TB game. “They’re supposed to be a state team.”
For now, Kerkhoff wants to see the team develop as practices forge on, the end result being to establish a team dynamic in which the players have the confidence to in effect, coach themselves.
“When they are on the floor I want them, by the end of the year, to be able to call their game, that’s where I want them to be,” Kerkhoff said. “The goal would be that they play hard, as hard as they can, and we see what happens.”
Austin Hewitt, Thomas VanCleave, Andy Lee, Colin Mange, Nick Olson and Patrick Maquire complete the varsity roster, which was finalized Wednesday.