SEASON PREVIEW: COMMODORE PERRY
Panthers' head coach Jay Carlson, in his seventh year at Commodore Perry, is expecting big things from his squad.
"I think we're looking pretty good," he said. "We have some
experience back at our forward positions. We have some decent guards coming up from jayvees. We've got a pretty good junior class. Some of them saw varsity time last year."
Carlson's team boasts some major size up front, namely 6-4 senior letterwinner Jason Robinson and 6-7 junior letterwinner Josh Sindlinger in the forward slots. Robinson posted 248 points last season while Sindlinger followed closely with 233. Both players led the team in rebounds as well as points.
"That's definitely going to be our strength, our forwards," said Carlson. "But, this is one of the most balanced teams that I've had in several years. Usually we might have quality guard play or forwards, but we have some decent balance. Definitely, our forwards are our strongest point, but our guards are pretty decent too."
Leading off the list of guards is 5-10 senior Dustin Landfried at two-guard. Running the point will be 5-11 junior Josh Nagel, while at three-guard will be 6-foot Eric McCullough. Carlson also noted a pair of swingmen looking to play a role in the Panthers season including senior Jeremy LaMotte and junior Jason Ramp.
To capitalize on his team's size, Carlson's team will take an aggressive stance on defense.
"We're going to basically be playing man-to-man," Carlson said. "We'll try to play with Sindlinger inside, with the size that we have. We're going to try to pick up the ball pressure and, hopefully, have a little bit more pressure man-to-man. We played man-to-man before, but I think with the people we have now we'll play better defensively."
Things have been improving progressively for the Panthers in the past few seasons. In the 1997-98 campaign they recorded only two wins. They doubled their wins in the 98-99 season and then finished the 99-00 season at 7-14.
"We try to improve each year," Carlson said. "This jayvee group that came through had a winning record last year, so that helps. We hope to continue that progression this year and next year. It would be nice because we have a decent core of juniors and we have a group of sophomores coming up that are going to be some decent basketball players. Hopefully we're still seeing an upswing from what we've had."
Although Perry's roster includes 19 players, Carlson believes that the more wins his team gets, the larger his squad will get.
"I think you need to win a few games to get people interested in the program," he said. "We've just been steadily trying to plug away at that and I hope that in the next two or three years we'll have a decent showing."
Competition will, once again, be unforgiving in the always tough MCAC-A division.
"Kennedy Christian is one of the best teams in Mercer County," he said. "They're three-peating state champs. So, you've got to have your sights set on them. West Middlesex, although last year (Chad Mild, the Big Reds' head coach) didn't have a lot of kids, they work hard and they're always going to pressure you. They pressure you in the turnovers and they're always going to be in your face defensively.
"It's not going to be easy, that's for sure," he added. "Mercer County's always tough."
"I'm optimistic about the season," Carlson stated. "I think we have some higher expectations of ourselves and I've made that point in practice. We should expect to do better. Hopefully, we can turn some things around. We've been winning some games, but it hasn't been fantastic. Again, we're in a tough league, not to make excuses, but I think we're going to be more competitive in the Mercer County league."
Assisting Carlson this season is JV coach Jeff Briggs and 9th grade coach Greg Carone. -- By Herald writer Pete Chiodo
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