The Bucs’ top two scorers, Kellum Bridgeforth and Malic Love and their go-to defensive stopper and motivator, Dimitrius Neely, all departed for post-graduate life, along with productive bench members like Tucker Beland and Charlie Brown.
Fortunately, an active bench full of young players gave the next generation of Bucs basketball an early taste of varsity ball last season, making the transition into 2018 all the easier.
Proven guard play from seniors Bryce Taylor and Casey Constant will provide a solid foundation for those new to the starting lineup with sharp shooting by Taylor and unprecedented speed from a motivated Constant, as he returns from a season-ending knee injury last year.
A trio of now juniors will look to step into the limelight after getting their feet wet last season. Owen Ross and Adam Strom will provide a presence in the post, along with senior John Elias, while Drew Sinke adds another surefire dagger from the three-point line. Seniors Mason Mahacek and Trevor Holleman will also be in the mix for playing time.
Grand Haven hopes to pair a wealth of viable strategies with proven guard play from their returning backcourt to produce a sum of a competitive O-K Red Conference squad.
Head coach Greg Immink took the time to answer three quick questions concerning their upcoming season.
Last year was all about speed, defense and the three-ball, what is this team’s signature style?
“I think we are going to be a different team altogether,” he said. “We lost some guys that played a lot of minutes and did a lot of different things for us. We lost a lot of quickness, but we have some size this year, so it will be a different look for us.
“We had three sophomores up in the post last year that I think will step into a bigger role and do a good job, we have some seniors that maybe were a little bit down the roster last year and put a lot of work in over the summer. We have (Drew) Sinke back, and other guys who got a lot of experience last year as underclassmen and will be stepping into a bigger role. I expect them all to take a big step forward with a year of experience under their belt getting used to the physicality of the game at the varsity level.
“That is a common theme for us. We are a pretty deep team. We have a lot of guys who put a lot of time in. I’m hoping that will be an advantage.”
Who is set up to lead a young group of varsity players?
“I like the guys we have coming back,” Immink said. “Casey Constant and Bryce Taylor are experienced guards, which is always important I think.
“They are both very skilled players. They have both been in a lot of big games and have that experience. Their leadership early on is something we are going to have to lean on. I’m excited for those guys and the rest of our seniors, they are going to have to step up and lead this year.”
What will put this team over the hump?
“I’m excited about the chemistry,” Immink said. “The guys get along really well on and off the court, and that is worth a couple of wins at some point in the season, I think.
“As adversity sets in and that sort of thing in midseason, it is important to have a group that is together and unselfish and all about each other, and this group is like that.
“The key is going to be how quickly we come together. You are going to see a lot of different things from us, and hopefully, we eventually settle in on a few things we will be super good at.”