SYCAMORE – Sycamore’s leading scorer during its season-opening Strombom Tournament was hardly even a factor on last year’s team.
Before he was knocking down shot after shot from behind the 3-point arc to lead the Spartans in scoring in three of their first four games, Cooper Vinz only had received a few minutes here and there for a Sycamore boys basketball team that won a regional championship last season.
On a team full of returning contributors, Vinz and several of his teammates have pushed coach Andrew Stacy to use an expanded rotation despite the fact that Sycamore lost four key seniors from last year’s team.
“Last year, we had maybe eight guys that played that were really good in there,” Vinz said. “This summer [Stacy] put us all in, we were able to get the pace of the game. It was kind of tough with the football players coming in late, but I think we’re really starting to click.”
Stacy said he felt confident making five-man substitutions during summer scrimmages, and he plans on using that depth to his team’s advantage this season.
The third-year coach said he’ll go 10-deep this season and may play as many as 12. The Spartans will press and play man-to-man all game in an effort to make the opposition fatigued.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to wear teams out,” Stacy said. “We’ll play a more up-tempo style and press more because we have some depth and that allows us to play some more guys. But they’ve got to be ready when they get their time on the floor that they’ll be ready to compete and play hard. That’s something that we want to use to our advantage because I think we can keep rotating fresh bodies in there and wear teams down. That’s one of our points of emphasis this season.”
The Spartans will have to compensate for the loss of Daily Chronicle Player of the Year Scott Nelson, a 6-foot-8 center, but they also have plenty of returners.
All-area forwards Devin Mottet and Ben Niemann return after leading the football team to a 12-1 record and the state semifinals, along with several contributors, including Jake Winters, Logan Wright, Nick Feuerbach and Mark Skelley.
A team that went 9-20 two years ago is coming off a regional championship, and they expect the progress to continue this season.
“Expectations are high for us because we have a lot of returning starters, and we just want to try to match what we did last year and exceed what we did last year,” Mottet said. “We just want to keep climbing the mountain, do better than we did last year, get to the sectional title game and win that.”
After size was a factor in last year’s success, Stacy is expecting speed and depth to be the factor that pushes Sycamore over the top in 2013-14.
“We want them to play as hard as they can for two to three minutes,” Stacy said. “And they should be wanting to come out at that point if they’re playing the way we want them to play.”