Boys basketball preview: New-look Craig aiming high

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John Barry
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

JANESVILLE--Ben McCormick has a problem on his hands.

Fortunately for the first-year boys basketball coach at Janesville Craig, it's a good problem to have.

McCormick must find a way to share quality minutes on a roster that he says has as many as 11 players capable of starting.

“We've got some unique challenges ahead of us far as what guys are going to show up when the lights come on,” McCormick said. “Guys look good in practice, but a game might be a different situation.

“It's a good group of talented guys that really compete. They go hard and get after each other. Early on, we're going to have to look at some different combinations to see what works best.”

Craig was 16-8 a year ago but was hit hard by graduation. McCormick must replace all five starters, including top scorers Adam Anhold and San'Trell Payton.

“It's going to be a different look for us, no doubt about it,” McCormick said. “But with the tempo we want to play with, I'm glad we have the depth that we do, especially early on in the season.”

Craig's top returning scorers are seniors Jacob Ngobi and Blake McCann, both of whom saw extensive minutes last season. The 6-foot-3 McCann was second on the team last season with 68 3-pointers and has improved his all-around game, according to McCormick.

“Blake's going to bring a lot more to the court this season,” McCormick said of McCann. “He's a quick leaper and has a good mid-range jumper, and I think defensively, he's going to make big strides.”

Ngobi averaged 6.7 points per game last season and was a stopper defensively.

“Jacob's a kid that has really bought into what we're trying to do,” McCormick said. “He has really improved his shot and does a nice job of getting to the rim. Plus, he's really become a leader on this team.”

McCormick is high on Seth Glissendorf (6-3) and expects the senior to match-up against the opposing team's top scorer. Senior Luke Malmanger (6-2) is also expected to be a main cog in the post for the Cougars.

“Seth is a great defender and communicator who is not afraid to do the dirty work that needs to be done,” McCormick said. “He's not worried about scoring, even though he's more than capable, but more about being that annoying kid that nobody wants guarding him.

“And Luke is a big, physical kid that also defends well. He's a good passer and can also knock down shots if you give him an open look.”

Juniors Aaron Leverson and Jack Huml could start at either point guard or at the two-guard spot, while juniors Jacob Lynch and Seve Bertagnoli can play either guard or forward.

McCormick expects juniors Dan Blomgren and Jake Fieras to also provide depth, especially on the defensive end.

Senior Dom Rizzo, along with juniors Sam Smith, Tegan Christiansen and Brandon Ronde,are also expected to push for playing time. Sophomore Caleb Scoville and junior Sam Stried round out the talented and deep roster.

“I really like this team and what they're going to bring to the court night in and night out,” McCormick said. “We're going to have to figure out which combinations work best, but right now we've got 11 guys that deserve some playing time.

“What I like most about this team is how close they are. They've been diving all over the floor after loose balls and really getting after each other. And I think that's the same thing you're going to see in games, too.”

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