Margaretville basketball preview: Boys' hoop team looks to gain experience

By Julia Green
After a 6-13 overall record in the 2007-08 season, the Margaretville Blue Devils are looking to a young squad to continue laying the foundation.
“Half our roster has not played a varsity game,” said MCS Head Coach Jeremey Marks. “But by the same token, a lot of those guys have had at least a year on JV, so they’re very capable players. It’s just a matter of defining our style, the kids buying into the system and committing to improve every day, and committing to playing tough defense and rebounding combined with a patient offense.”
The Blue Devils return six players from last year’s squad, two of whom – juniors Marcus Moore and Brian Faulkner – were starters.
“Marcus is in his third year of varsity as a junior and Mitch VanKeuren is in his second year, and both those guys were captains on the soccer team this year, so I expect them to hold guys accountable and demand a practice environment conducive for us to improve,” Marks said. “Being young again and having moved up four more 10th-graders, we’re going to need that consistency daily.”
Marks said they will also be looking to junior Brian Faulkner to step up.
“Brian’s going to be a big key for us,” he said. “He’s strong, he’s got good hands, he’s deceptively quick and agile for being 6’2” or 6’3”. He’s a good rebounder, he’s a good scorer in the low post, and we’re going to count on him to be a consistent scoring threat and offensive rebounder.”
Marks believes that one of his squad’s strengths will be the ability to play good defense and rebound with Faulkner, Moore, sophomore Danny Jenkins and senior Ken Wilson leading the effort.
“We’ve got guys who have the ability to play solid defense around the basket and grab rebounds both offensively and defensively,” he said. “And defensively, I think we have decent size and we have some quickness in our guards with Mitch [VanKeuren], Tyler Smith and Jacob Johnson. We have the ability to give teams different looks defensively, which include some trapping defenses, some pressuring defenses along with solid man-to-man and different zone looks.”
Marks added that when senior Steve Amundsen returns from injury, the team will be looking to him for some outside shooting, which will stretch the defense and take some pressure off the interior players.
The Blue Devils’ style of play, Marks said, will revolve around a few key concepts: playing tough defense, rebounding and patient offense.
“That’s basically it: I want us to play good defense, try to force some turnovers, create some opportunities, force tough shots, and then rebound the ball. And once we do gain possession of the ball, breaking pressure, taking care of the ball, and limiting turnovers. Being patient on offense and taking high-percentage shots. But limiting our turnovers – that’s key for us.”
Looking toward the upcoming league competition, Marks said he anticipates heavy competition from the Delaware Mountain side of the league, identifying Roxbury and South Kortright as the teams to beat, and adding that on the Upper Delaware side, Hunter and Charlotte Valley look to be solid teams. “But,” he said, “I’m more focused on our team than the league.
“My goal for these guys is to improve every day, play unselfish team basketball, and I really want them to believe that the success that they had in soccer can be translated into basketball,” Marks said. “I try to make a style of play that’s fun, but also being consistent with the importance of practice and trying to instill a work ethic on and off the court. Getting them to play together, to understand their individual roles and how those roles benefit the team. And I’ve tried to keep a lot of stuff consistent year after year just so guys can retain things.
“Really for our group it’s about gaining experience, because we have to combine the younger kids with the returners. I’m looking for this team to continue laying the foundation for success for Margaretville basketball. It’s slowly happening, but it’s happening.”
The Blue Devils open the 2008-09 season at home against Roxbury at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 3.