Laker boys' basketball to use seasoned players for marked improvement
There will be a much more seasoned team taking to the hardwood this season for the Detroit Lakes boys' basketball team.
The Lakers have a good amount of experience coming back in each of the front and backcourts to see a stark improvement from a year ago.
"I think we are more talented this season and one of our goals as a team is to get up in the top four of our section," said DL head coach Robb Flint. "But our Mid-State Conference will be as good as our section, so every game will be a hard-fought one."
The Lakers should be stout in the paint this season, with each of junior Josh Stalberger and sophomore Joe Mollberg back.
Unfortunately, Mollberg will be out indefinitely with a back injury, with no timetable set for his return.
But DL has good depth at forward, with sophomore Brian Labat providing some good strength up front, along with seniors Mark Labat and Alex Guetter.
"We'll get good leadership qualities from Alex and Mark," Flint added.
Stalberger is coming off a solid season last year and will be looked to be used on the block more.
"Josh is athletic enough to go up and get the ball if we can isolate him on the block," Flint said. "His footwork is as good as I've seen and I can see him being able to make a fake and go up strong and get to the free throw line more."
Offensively, the Lakers will have a little different look with a four-out, dribble and drive motion to create their shots.
Penetrating the lane will be the responsibility of the guards, which includes senior Tyler Fode, juniors Connor McLeod and Connor Hedstrom, along with sophomore Rick Hutchinson.
Fode will also return as DL's best defensive player from a year ago and will provide the threat of hitting three-pointers, while Hedstrom saw solid time at the end of last season.
"Connor is a hard-nosed player and he will need to make good decisions as the point guard," Flint said. "He's good at driving the lane and looks to pass first."
With the guards hopefully being effective driving the lane, the perimeter shot should open up, Flint said.
McLeod's strength is driving to the rim with his good foot speed, while improving on finishing the shot over the course of the offseason.
Newcomer Hutchinson will also see time.
"He's a true point guard," Flint included. "Rick handles the ball well and sees the floor. He also has a high basketball I.Q."
Mollberg will also be used as an inside-outside threat, since he has the ability to shoot the ball from outside the 10-foot range, but also can drive and muscle in points.
Shooting will be a key to the season and Flint wants to see his team's shooting percentage rise to the 51-52 percent range from its previous 45-percent mark last year.
"We're really concentrating on improving our shooting," Flint said. "We would like to also get to the free throw line more and hopefully start wearing teams down."
Rebounding should also be a strength, with DL being long with Stalberger and Guetter providing length, while Mollberg and Brian Labat provide some bulk.
"Even guys like Tyler Fode can go up and rebound, so all our guys can rebound," the DL coach said.
If the rebound game stays strong, that can lead to an effective transition game, where DL should be a good running team and be able to score before defenses can set up.
St. Cloud Apollo will be the favorite in the section, along with Little Falls and Bemidji.
The Mid-State will be equally tough with Crosby-Ironton (22-3 last year) returning all their players, along with Pequot Lakes, which won 19 games last year.
Staples-Motley also returns the conference's best player in Jordan Riewer.
DL will open the season at Little Falls on Friday, Dec. 4.
Detroit Lakes 2009-10 boys' basketball schedule (games start at 7:30 p.m. unless noted):
4 at Little Falls
15 Pequot Lakes
22 at Thief River Falls
29-30 at St. Francis Tournament
8 Wadena-Deer Creek
12 at Staples-Motley
16 Fergus Falls
21 at Bemidji
22 at Park Rapids
26 at Pequot Lakes
1 at St. Cloud Apollo
5 at Crosby-Ironton
6 at Perham
9 Park Rapids
19 at Wadena-Deer Creek
20 Grand Rapids
23 at Crookston
5 Thief River Falls
9 Section quarterfinals
13 Section semifinals
18 Section Finals at SCSU
25-27 State Tournament.