Boys Basketball Preview
Central Blue Blazers counting hours, looking to count wins
ELKHART — New Central High School boys basketball coach Troy Noble has been counting up the hours that his Blue Blazers have been putting in.
All involved hope that it leads to the Blazers being able to count up more victories.
By Noble’s calculation, the 12 seniors and juniors in the program have committed 1,540 hours to open gyms, individual workouts and weight training since his June 12 arrival. That doesn’t include the formal practices that got under way Nov. 5, or the times some of those players were away putting efforts into other sports as well.
“I’d say we’re a little bit ahead of where I thought we might be, and part of that is the time that the kids have put into it,” Noble says. “We keep track because the more you invest into something, the harder it is to quit on it.”
Central is coming off a 5-18 season, its seventh straight winter with double-digit losses.
A bevy of veterans return, though, led by All-Area honorable mention guard Terell Street, who averaged 10.6 points and 2.9 assists as a junior. Overall, six of the top eight scorers are back, while the key departure is graduated center Joe Godfread, who averaged an area-topping 2.5 blocks to go with a team-leading 5.8 rebounds.
“If anything, I was undersold on how hard the kids work here, how committed they are going to be, how hungry they are,” says Noble, whose most recent of several high school and college stops as a head or assistant coach was Tell City last year. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Usually, there’s a big sell job on that, but I’ve been really pleased.”
The Blazers open Wednesday with their traditional Thanksgiving eve showdown against Northridge, this time as part of a girl-boy doubleheader in Middlebury. The home opener follows on Saturday against Gary 21st Century.
The city showdown again comes early, Nov. 30 against Memorial.
Blazer coach Troy Noble’s take
Who are the candidates to start and what do they bring to the mix?
“I don’t know who’s going to start. Terell Street will lead us in minutes, I’m pretty sure of that. He’s done a great job buying in. (A coaching change is) hard for a guy who’s about to be a three-year starter and four-year varsity player, but he’s bought in totally, and I think our year will probably come down to what kind year our senior class has. If they have a good year collectively, and we can rely on them on the court and for holding down the off-court issues, we can have a good year. After Terell, you’ve got Blake Brouwer and Brian Harter, who have put in a ton of time. And we think JJ Stahl’s the best athlete in northern Indiana when it comes to running and jumping. He has an unbelievably high ceiling. We’re trying to get his football legs out of him right now. Some of the other guys who I think are going to be contributors are Jaron Walters, Larnell Jett, Tre Taylor, Genoris Crawford. We could play 10 or 11 guys. We are going to rely on our bench.”
As a new coach, what did the summer entail, and have you been pleased with the transition?
“The kids have been very receptive to our philosophies and to embracing our expectations. Our staff has been very satisfied with the kids’ progress individually and collectively. During the summer, we lifted three days a week, went to five or six different shootouts and tried to find top-notch competition. We had one day where we took our kids to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, the Hoosier gym, the Butler Fieldhouse and the New Castle gym in one day. We scrimmaged New Castle that night. We wanted to get on that court because we knew we’d be playing there (Dec. 29). We obviously got home late, but it was a great one-day trip.”
You’ve mentioned weight training a few times. Why do you put an emphasis on that?
“I think it gives us stamina. I think it gives us an ability to defend the ball the way we like to, and it gives us a physical presence inside. It increases our depth. And I think it’s something that helps kids in all sports at once, and we have a lot of three-sport athletes.”
What can you share about your plans offensively and defensively?
“We’ll be primarily a man team (defensively). I’d like to pick up full court if we can. Offensively, I’d like to play as fast as we possibly can and still be under control. I think kids like to play fast, but they have to play with accountability as far as their decision-making. If you play without it, you’ll have poor shot selection and increased turnovers. We need to minimize the mistakes at both ends. Success, as Bob Knight used to say, favors the team that makes the fewest mistakes.”
By the numbers
Central’s average record over the last seven years, with one winning season (13-11 in 2010-11) during that time.
Documented time in hours that Central’s 12 seniors and juniors have put into open gym, individual workouts and weight training since Troy Noble arrived June 12 as head coach.
No. Player Pos. Ht. Yr.
10 Genoris Crawford G 5-9 Jr.
11 Terell Street G 5-11 Sr.
12 JJ Stahl F 6-5 Sr.
13 Jaron Walters F 6-2 Jr.
20 Myran McKnight G 5-11 Sr.
21 Tre Taylor G 6-1 Jr.
22 Larnell Jett F 6-2 Sr.
23 Blake Brouwer F 6-6 Sr.
30 Shaneal Mackey G 6-0 Jr.
31 Tray Qualls G 6-1 Jr.
32 Derald Gray C 6-4 Jr.
40 Brian Harter C 6-9 Sr.
41 Clinton Parker G 6-0 Fr.
43 Aaron Flax F 6-0 So.
Coach: Troy Noble (first season at Central; 5-17 in 1 season at Tell City; 12-13 in 1 season at Illini West, Carthage, Ill.).
Assistants: Scott Sekal, Scott Sassaman, Eugene McGregor, Aaron Nicks.
21 — at Northridge. 24 — Gary 21st Century. 30 — Memorial.
1 — Goshen. 7 — SB Riley (c). 22 — at Indianapolis Arlington. 29 — at New Castle.
4 — SB Adams (c). 8 — Warsaw. 11 — at Mishawaka (c). 12 — at Wawasee. 15 — Concord. 18 — at Marian (c). 25 — Penn (c). 29 — Prairie Heights.
1 — SB Washington (c). 7 — at SB Clay (c). 12 — at Edwardsburg. 15 — at SB St. Joseph (c). 19 — at Elkhart Christian.
(c) — Denotes Northern Indiana Conference game.
Points: Terell Street 10.6*, JJ Stahl 6.3, Blake Brouwer 5.8, Jaron Walters 5.4, Myran McKnight 5.1.
Rebounds: Stahl 3.6, Street 3.2.
Assists: Street 2.9*, McKnight 0.7.
Steals: Street 1.5, Stahl 1.0.
* — Denotes also led last season’s team overall.