Preview: Boys basketball team returns with a new teamWhile teams across the Suburban East Conference are busy talking about the experience they have returning, the Hastings boys basketball team is instead trying to figure out where they are going to get their points from.
By: Chad Richardson, The Hastings Star-Gazette
While teams across the Suburban East Conference are busy talking about the experience they have returning, the Hastings boys basketball team is instead trying to figure out where they are going to get their points from.
Hastings doesn’t have a player returning to the team this year who averaged more than one point a game. In fact, there is only one player returning to the team who scored more than 20 points all of last season (Alex Wiese).
While Hastings is lacking experience, they aren’t lacking athletes. Many of the upperclassmen are three-sport athletes who had strong football seasons. Waiting in the wings are a number of skilled sophomores, including three who will see big minutes this year. Of the 18 athletes on varsity, eight of them are sophomores.
“This will be a really fun group for people to come out and watch, not only this season but as this group develops in the next couple of years,” coach Chad Feikema said. “I would expect that come section time, we’re going to be very dangerous. There won’t be a lot of teams that will want to play us.”
Feikema said his inexperienced group will need to adjust to the speed of the varsity game and the physical play, especially on defense.
“When our kids adjust to that, I think we’ll be able to play with anybody,” he said. “We’ll have some nights where people come away and say, ‘That was really something.’ We’ll have some nights where we take it on the chin. But we’ve got tough kids, and they’ll respond.”
Feikema is excited about what he sees coming up in the basketball program in Hastings.
“Basketball is really taking off in Hastings, thanks to the Booster Club, the middle school coaches and everyone involved in the youth program,” he said. “It’s a process. It takes time. But you can see the pieces of the puzzle falling into place a little bit. We’ve got some talented kids at every grade level, and we’ve got a lot of depth coming up.”
There are no captains again this season on the team, a move Feikema made last year.
“In previous years, it became more of a status thing and less of a servant thing,” Feikema said. “Last year, as the season went along, the captains emerged. By the end of the year, we knew who the captains were based on how they practiced every day, the way they treated their teammates and their leadership. It was something that was earned, more than it was something that was awarded. Our hope is that the same thing will happen again this year.”
Hastings has four seniors on the roster.
They are Alex Wiese, Bryce Garvey, Chris Webb and Barrett Hultgren.
Wiese had a successful fall season on the football team.
“We hope he will fill some type of a leadership role for us,” Feikema said. “He excelled in that role during the football season. He’s ready to be a great teammate in any way he can. Whether he scores a lot or a little, I think he’s ready to be a leader.
“I’d expect the same thing from Bryce and Chris as well. Bryce, on the floor, does everything well. He doesn’t do anything that will make you jump out of your chair, but he’s a very solid all-around player. He is very well rounded and can do a lot of things.
“Chris is more of a vocal leader for us.”
Hultgren did not play basketball last year. He will likely spend most of the season with the junior varsity.
In addition to Wise, Garvey and Webb, Hastings has seven more players competing for varsity playing time.
Juniors are Zach Wiese, Ross Dylla, Drew Pottinger and Josh Brown.
Three sophomores will also figure into the mix. They are Craig Nielsen, Sam Skoyen and Joe Dittrich. Nielsen is 6-2, Skoyen is 6-2 and Dittrich is 6-3.
“Those three sophomores will play a lot,” Feikema said. “Our juniors and seniors don’t have a lot of height. Those three guys will be the tallest guys in our lineup.”
Feikema expects Roseville to be “a monster” this season. They have three seniors ranked among the top 50 seniors in the state, and a sophomore among the state’s top 20, he said.
Stillwater, Woodbury and Cretin-Derham Hall should all be at the top of the standings, too.
In the section, Lakeville North is the returning champion. Rochester John Marshall, Farmington and Rochester Century should all be contenders, too.
Contending in the section tournament is something Hastings will be aiming for this year.
“Consistent improvement is our No. 1 goal,” Feikema said. “We want to be a team to be reckoned with come section time. Last year we did that.”