Boys' basketball: Chemistry and patience carry Cardinals
Rob Bosshart can't remember ever coaching a selfish Spring Valley boys' basketball team, but the unselfishness of this year's group of Cardinals sticks out to the veteran coach.
"I don't know that we've ever had any really selfish groups, but these guys are way more concerned about the team result than they are about individual accomplishments," Bosshart said. "A lot of the kids we have are really interested in helping others. They like to work with the younger kids, and this didn't just happen when the season started."
Bosshart said his upperclassmen made it a norm to offer underclassmen rides to league play in the summer and football practice in the fall and that their emphasis on team chemistry has created an inclusive environment on the court where everyone feels like they belong.
"I think one of the strengths of our team is our chemistry," Bosshart said. "They're really good about encouraging each other, and it's a pretty tight-knit group on and off the court. A lot of these kids do a lot of things together socially and in school, and I think you can see that."
Along with the early inklings of team chemistry amongst his players, Bosshart has also noticed an added level of energy in his players during the first two weeks of their 2018-19 season.
Last year's Cardinals team finished with a 12-11 record and was eliminated in the first round of the WIAA playoffs. Bosshart said his returners from the 2017-18 season were disappointed with the team's inconsistency and fluctuating levels of intensity.
"I know they were frustrated by it, but I think it's something that has motivated them throughout the offseason and carried over into the fall," Bosshart said. "I've seen higher energy levels in practice this year, and I think the guys are motivated to not repeat those same things from last year."
The Cardinals graduated five seniors after their 2018-19 campaign, including their top rebounder and third-best scorer, Tyson Kado. The Cardinals will once again be led by now-senior Dylan "Zip" Bosshart and junior Aaron Borgerding who combined for averages of 24.7 points and 6.5 assists per game last season.
Coach Bosshart said Borgerding and Zip both became more comfortable with their leadership roles as the season progressed last year after having been the surprisingly talented underclassmen in years past.
"They understood going in that they were going to see a couple of the teams' better defenders and that they weren't going to surprise anyone," Bosshart said. "I think they responded to that pretty well."
While Bosshart would still like to see his two leading scorers become more consistent with their perimeter shooting and stronger ball-handlers, he's more concerned with how they'll help set their teammates up for success in the coming season.
Aside from Borgerding and Zip, the Cardinals return senior Lance McMurrin, junior Trevor Stangl and sophomore Mike Bauer who all played primarily on the varsity team last season. After them, the Cardinals welcome on many players who've barely — if at all — played varsity basketball.
"It's going to take patience, and we have to make sure we're putting players in positions where they're going to be successful," Bosshart said. "We need to understand there are going to be some growing pains when inexperienced guys get in, but that's the only way we're going to develop depth."
Leaning on patience shouldn't be a problem for Bosshart or his upperclassmen who are always willing to correct a players' defensive positioning in practice or show a teammate the proper way to make an entry pass into the post. Bosshart's hope for his team is to eventually reach a point in the season where he no longer has to reinforce effort or re-explain defensive rotations, but for now, he and his upperclassmen are more concerned with creating an environment where his players' relationships on and off the court will eventually help them reach their full potential.
"When I look back, I don't look at individual games or things that happened in games," Bosshart said. "If you're more concerned about wins and losses, it'll consume you. It's about the people and things that happened in practice that other people wouldn't have any idea about. I just enjoy being here."