It’s always a bittersweet time of year when the Greyhounds’ season comes to a close. This year, it may be a bit more bittersweet. There are a lot of folks from this team who have been very important to me, and who I’ve really enjoyed watching through Upward.
The first guy I’m going to mention is Spencer Irvin. He’s been on of the foundational pieces of the last two teams. He’s fun to watch, and he’s fun to coach.
The second guy I’m going to mention is Jonah Wittenberger. He’s been with the last two teams as well. What really struck me about Jonah is how much he grew in confidence this past season.
But now, I get to the four guys who started with me as 2015 Bruins: Jeremy Anderson, Justin Slade, Ryan Slade, and C. J. McGuire.
Jeremy was our scoring punch with the Bruins, and he’s brought much of that mentality to the Greyhounds. I felt he was going to break out at some point; he’s got that kind of offensive potential. It was fun having him back.
The Slade Brothers and C. J. have been with me the past two years.
Ryan Slade is one of my go-to guys when I need defense and ball pressure. He’s kind of stuck playing the same position as Spencer and Luke, and as a result, he doesn’t get as much time as he deserves. But I love what Ryan brings to the team. I make fun of him for not having clean hands (for committing fouls), but then again, my hands were never that clean, either.
Justin Slade had an incredible set of games, earning him two game balls. Justin grabbed the lion’s share of minutes at the point guard spot. Justin is tough as nails, and he leaves every ounce of energy on the floor.
And then there’s C. J. Of all the players, C. J. is my guy. He does the unappreciated stuff. He knows the plays and the sets and understands the purpose behind the plays. He’s always blocking someone out, or setting a pick, or doing all the things that don’t get appreciated except by coaches. I’m so proud of how far C. J. has come since those early days as Bruins. I can’t take all the credit; he had Candace Seeve and Aaron Mutnick in 4th grade, Coach Steve Sachs in fifth grade, and had a good run with Taylor Sirois this past season. But I claim C. J. as my guy. It was him who I had the most fun coaching this past season. And he was once again selected as the best sportsman.
It’s hard letting players go; it really is. Some of them, especially, are very important to us as coaches. But it’s part of the process.
One of those guys who has been so important for such a long time is Patrick Smith. Patrick recently moved to Texas, where he will be working at Bell Helicopter – a division of Textron Inc. I’m going to miss Patrick; he has been a great friend.
And soon begins the Upward season – and this year, without main league director Bill Sparkes, who tragically passed away a few weeks ago. The Greyounds will be contributing to Bill’s memorial fund based on how many points we scored in the Show-Me State Games.
The results of the games weren’t too much to our liking; we lost the four games we played, although we did receive a forfeit from one team. I still have stat totaling and film analysis to do, but for now, I’m just going to think on some guys who’ve been very important to me.
And there is light for the future as well. Next year’s team figures to return Temi Ogungbade, Landon Tarwater, Addo Meiners, and Luke Sachs. That’s a good group. In addition, most of my 2017 Wildcats will be eligible, plus, Taysir Yalaoui will be a third grader. Exciting times!