Bethany Christian Boys Basketball Preview 2012-13
Posted: 11/12/2012 at 3:01 pm
By: Anthony Anderson
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Bethany Christian High School boys returning letter winners for the 2012-13 season are: Row one from left Nate Nussbaum, Abe Thorne, Jesse Loewen and Sol Brenneman. Row two from left: Byeong Chan Lim, Isaac Schertz, Ike Lehman, Joseph Momaw, Isaac Brenneman, Cristian Romero and Joel Gerig. (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen)
Just a moment later, the sophomore guard tried an unnecessary behind-the-back pass during a 3-on-1 fast break.
In a nutshell, that may be Bethany basketball right now — some youth, some promise, some lack of basketball wisdom.
“There’s going to be some growing pains early on,” Buller says, “but it’s also a very hard-working group eager to learn. It’s kind of an unbridled colt thing — fun to watch, but it’ll drive you nuts sometimes.”
The Bruins graduated four of the five starters off last season’s 10-11 club, the exception being Caleb Morris, a versatile, 6-foot-2 senior who averaged 5.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists — second on the team — a year ago.
The only other returnees with significant varsity experience are Brenneman, who averaged 13 minutes last winter as a freshman, and senior Jesse Loewen, who at 6-3 matches Abe Thorne as Bethany’s tallest player.
“We’re not as big as we’ve been the last few years,” Buller says. “It’s more the kind of size that we had for the 30 years before that, but there is some athleticism.”
As for the coach, he needs just one victory to become the winningest coach in Elkhart County boys basketball history at 365, a mark he downplays as a mere product of longevity.
The Bruins tip their season Nov. 20 at Westview, then play their home opener Nov. 24 against West Noble.
Q&A with Bethany coach Jim Buller
Discuss your potential starters and what each offers.
“Caleb Morris will be our clear emotional leader. We’re going to count on him to be a pretty significant performer at both ends of the floor. He has good leadership skills and we’re excited about what he can do. Then Abe Thorne and Jesse Loewen are both 6-3, and both bring a lot of athleticism and energy. They’re going to need to step into more significant roles than last year, but that’s pretty much true across the board, because besides Caleb, we’re pretty much starting over. Sol (Brenneman) got some time on the varsity last year, and he’ll be a starting guard. We’re pretty excited about his potential. He’s kind of a basketball junkie. He just needs to settle down at times. Nate Nussbaum is a 5-9 sophomore and a left-hander, which is always nice to have to make things look a little different for the defense. He’s strong, athletic and keeps his head about him under stress, but doesn’t have a lot of experience. And Cristian Romero is another sophomore. He’s been injured and just got cleared (Wednesday after suffering a hip injury late in the soccer season). He’s pretty quick, athletic, but largely untested. Then we’ve got some seniors who will challenge — again, largely untested, but some guys who are working really hard. Overall, I like this team’s spirit and how they put the team first.”
How do you counter the lack of experience, and relative to recent years, lack of size?
“We’re getting back to teaching some fundamentals. We are raw, but one of the things about this team is an overall energy and eagerness to learn, an eagerness to step into the opportunity. The last several years, we have had kind of an unusual run of size with Andy Slagel and Hamilton (Thorne), and before that Seth Kauffman, who’s just one of the great, explosive players we’ve ever had here, so this team is going to look different from that, but it’s just more like the teams we’ve had for 30 years. I do think it’s one of the faster teams we’ve had. Now whether that keeps us from turning it over 20 times a game, we’ll have to see.”
Not your favorite topic, but you need one win to become Elkhart County’s winningest-ever boys coach at 365. Any new thoughts on that since last season ended?
“I’d be real happy if we could get that win immediately just to get it over with, but our schedule is pretty front-loaded. I really want the focus to be on our team and how I think they’re going to grow. You look around (the area) and you’ve got other coaches looking at 400, 500 wins. It’s just so happens they haven’t been all at one school. Then you look at what (NorthWood’s) Steve Neff has done (second-winningest girls coach in state history at 612) and (365) really pales. That puts it in perspective. What I’ve done is just more a recognition that Bethany’s been patient.”
By the numbers
Career victories by 34th-year Bruin coach Jim Buller. With one more, he surpasses John Longfellow for most wins in Elkhart County boys basketball history. Longfellow’s standard has stood for more than 64 years.
Percentage of 2011-12 Bethany Christian points scored by players returning this season.
No. Player Pos. Ht. Yr.
10 Sol Brenneman G 6-0 So.
12 Nate Nussbaum G 5-9 So.
14 Ike Lehman G 5-9 Sr.
22 Cristian Romero G 5-11 So.
22 Isaac Schertz G 5-11 Sr.
30 Abe Thorne F 6-3 Jr.
32 Byeong Chan Lim G 5-9 Sr.
42 Jesse Loewen F 6-3 Sr.
44 Caleb Morris F 6-2 Sr.
50 Ben Rudy-Froese F 6-1 Sr.
Coach: Jim Buller (364-352 in 33 seasons, all at Bethany Christian).
Assistants: John Mast, Dan Bodiker, Trevor Daugherty.
20 — at Westview. 24 — West Noble.
1 — Prairie Heights. 6 — Howe. 8 — at Lakeland. 11 — Triton. 15 — Bethany Holiday Tourney (Elkhart Christian, Lakeland Christian, SB Trinity). 18 — White Pigeon. 21 — at FW Canterbury
4 — at Argos. 7 — Bremen. 26 — at FW Blackhawk. 29 — at Clinton Christian.
1 — at Elkhart Christian. 7 — Lakewood Park. 12 — Jimtown. 16 — at LaVille. 19 — at Central Noble. 22 — Fremont.
Points: Caleb Morris 5.7, Sol Brenneman 2.4, Jesse Loewen 2.2.
Rebounds: Morris 3.4, Loewen 2.0.
Assists: Morris 2.7, Brenneman 0.7.
Steals: Morris 1.2, Brenneman 0.4.