Detroit Lakes boy hoopsters biggest challenge will be inexperience
There will be a few holes to fill in the Detroit Lakes boys' basketball lineup, and it may take some time to see who is able to do so.
With the departures of three of their top four scorers from last year -- including DLHS' all-time leading scorer, Adam Thielen, who had 577 points in 2007-08 -- there is a nice contingent of players returning to improve on its 10-16 mark from a year ago.
"I think our athleticism is better than last year," said second-year head coach Robb Flint. "We should be bigger, too. The only thing we don't know is who will be our go-to guy. Hopefully, it's three to four guys who can step up in that role."
One returner who saw plenty of varsity action last year is senior guard Reed Oistad, who was the team's second-leading scorer with 234 points, including 32 three-pointers.
Oistad can play both the point and shooting guard positions, but Flint is hoping another senior -- Mike Beeson -- can take the point.
"We can get Reed more shots at the two position (shooting guard)," Flint said. "Mike will need to take care of the ball. He didn't see a lot of time on varsity last year, but he knows how hard he is going to have to work."
Oistad also led the team with 78 assists last year, and collected 44 rebounds.
Size will be more of a strength than liability like in 2007-08, with the emergence of sophomore forward Josh Stalberger and the return of senior post player Kyle Muckenhirn -- who is coming back after two knee injuries.
Stalberger was brought up last year as a freshmen towards the latter stages of the season, and finished with 20 points.
But with some maturation and a load more confidence, Flint is expecting much bigger things from his sophomore post.
"Last year, he was a bit tentative, but he has grown up a lot over the course of the year," Flint added. "He knows he needs to get better on defense, but his offense will be good."
Muckenhirn suffered a season-ending knee injury last year during the football season, spending the year in rehabilitation. He had a setback in the fall with another knee injury, but is expected to be able to play by the season opener.
"He still has a hard time making it out to the perimeter (due to his knee injuries), but on the block, he is doing well," Flint said. "We'll get him in there and post him up, but running the floor maybe tough for him for awhile.
"But he is our captain and a good leader."
Adding bulk in the middle will be senior forward Zane Kotschevar, who will provide that blue-collar mentality.
"Zane is a banger in the post," the DL coach said. "He will be able to get us some offensive rebounds, and he plays defense. We are not overly strong, so we'll depend on him."
More defense will be provided by senior Max Knoll, who brings a good scrappy mentality, which in turn can lead to creating turnovers.
But overall, the experience factor isn't there for DL, with basically just Oistad being a regular varsity player a year ago.
That inexperience will mean inconsistent play from game-to-game, at least early in the season.
"I don't know how much depth we'll have, because a lot of these players haven't played on the varsity level," Flint said. "All aspects have question marks. I just want to be competitive in game."
Some younger players who will be looked to make contributions include freshman forward Joe Mollberg, junior Tyler Fode, senior Brady Johnson, juniors Mark Labat and Alex Guetter.
"Joe Mollberg is ready to go and be thrown in the mix," Flint said. "He is talented offensively and will be one of our best (lane) penetrators. We have a lot of question marks, but we are excited to get started."
In the section, St. Cloud Apollo and Rocori are considered favorites, along with last year's Class 3A state qualifier Little Falls, which returns four of its five starters.
Staples-Motley returns three juniors, while Crosby-Ironton will be ready to defend its Mid-State Conference title after finishing as the Class 2A state runner-up.
DL starts the season Friday against Little Falls, starting at 7:30 p.m.
5 Little Falls
19 at Wadena-Deer Creek
29-30 at Dassel-Cokato Tourney
6 at Moorhead
8 at Pequot Lakes
10 at Breckenridge
16 Park Rapids
20 St. Cloud Apollo
24 at D-G-F
27 at Crosby-Ironton
29 Wadena-Deer Creek
5 Thief River Falls
10 Pequot Lakes
13 at Staples-Motley
14 at Fergus Falls
17 at Bemidji
21 at Grand Rapids
27 at Park Rapids
28 at Alexandria
6 at Thief River Falls.