Trenkle: Broncusters' deep bench a big strength
By j. LEVI BURNFIN
By j. LEVI BURNFIN
Throughout the non-conference schedule, head coach Brady Trenkle has played almost all of his 14-man Garden City Community College men's basketball roster in each game. At least, when everybody is healthy.
Heading into the conference opener at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday against Seward County at Perryman Athletic Complex, Trenkle expects the 14-2 Busters' deep rotation to continue, with some slight adjustments.
Our rotation "has to continue. It has to," Trenkle said. "I think if guys are going to play hard, they're going to get tired. I think depth is a big key.
"Everybody in our league is deep. Everybody I've seen play, they're minimum 10 guys and maximum 13 guys, so we're going to have to do it."
That doesn't mean certain players won't play more minutes in conference games, Trenkle noted. One of those players is Jade Cathey who, despite averaging less than 20 minutes per game, is leading the team with 13.2 points per game, and 7.7 rebounds per game.
"Jade's going to have to play more minutes," Trenkle said.
But Trenkle also set up the non-conference rotation to help build the depth he believes they will need during the meat of their conference schedule.
But did it work?
"If we didn't have two weeks off, I'd tell you," Trenkle said, referencing the winter break before playing the final non-conference game on Sunday. "I think we're ready for the competition. I think we're ready to play Seward, to play Hutch, to play Barton."
Trenkle might have been more confident had conference play began in December, but as it is, the Busters have won 11 straight, and are tied for the best non-conference record with No. 13 Hutchinson at 14-2.
They are averaging 81.4 points, but have limited teams to just 60.3, utilizing a consistently tough-nosed, half-court man defense. When the Busters have struggled on offense, Trenkle has leaned on his defense to force turnovers and get easy scores.
But the offense does have to get better, particularly in recognizing different defenses quickly to get into an attacking mindset.
Several times in the non-conference schedule, point guards Jalen Variste and Keegan Oyugi had to be told from the bench to get into a different offense because the defense had switched from man to zone or vice versa.
"Keegan and Jalen have just got to get better at it," Trenkle explain. "You know, they're young. Keegan, everytime he messes up, he looks at me like, 'I don't know what I'm thinking.' We'll figure it out. It takes time."
The Busters won't have much time to iron out some of the finer details, though, as they start the conference schedule with Seward County on Saturday before traveling on Wednesday to Hutchinson to take on the 13th-ranked Blue Dragons.
When asked how big that first conference game is, especially at home, Trenkle said, "I think it's big for everybody. If you beat Seward here, then you're feeling good going into Hutch. If you lose to Seward here, you kind of get into panic mode; kids will get into panic mode. You're going into a top-20 team's house."
Seward County (10-6)
Led by Niem Stevenson's 16.5 ppg, the Saints have four players averaging in double figures.
Head coach Bryan Zollinger's young Saints — with only four sophomores on the roster — are averaging 84.3 ppg on 47 percent shooting from the field, despite hitting only 30 percent of their 3-pointers. Meanwhile, their defense has held opponents to just 70.1 ppg.
No. 13 Hutchinson (14-2)
Head coach Steve Eck's Blue Dragons boast the second-highest scoring leader in the nation in sophomore Kadeem Allen. The 6-foot-3 guard is dropping in 28.4 ppg, hitting 46 percent of his shots, hauling in 7.2 boards and dishing 6.2 assists per game to lead the lethal offensive attack.
The Blue Dragons are averaging 90 ppg, but have also allowed 81.9 in many high-scoring affairs, including a 115-104 win over Jayhawk East's Allen County on Wednesday in the Hutchinson Sports Arena.
The Blue Dragons' two losses came to new Jayhawk East member Butler, and Central Community College-Columbus, Ohio.
The Trojans, headed by coach Rusty Grafel, used a more balanced attack with four players in double figures to reach the 88.1 ppg mark they have hit through the non-conference schedule.
Sophomore Jeremiah Ingram leads the way with 20 ppg. The 6-7 small forward is shooting at a 50-percent clip, while also hauling in 8.9 rpg.
The Trojans have made their biggest impact on the defensive end of the floor, holding teams to just 60.3 ppg, tied for the Busters for best in the West.
Scott City-product Joey Meyer has started 10 of the Trojans' 16 games, and is averaging 6.1 ppg, while shooting at a 63-percent clip.
Head coach Jesse Shaw's Beavers have struggled on the offensive end of the floor, scoring a Jayhawk West-low 77.9 ppg.
It seems Shaw is still looking for the right chemistry in his rotation as 11 different players have started at least two games.
Sophomore Center Kevin Allen drops in a team-high 12.1 ppg. However, the Beavers do hold opponents to just 68.5 ppg.
Cloud County (8-8)
A heavyweight backcourt for the Thunderbirds provide much of the offensive lightning. Sophomore Shaun Stewart leads the team with 20.9 ppg, while freshman Lorenzo Dillard drops in 17.2.
While the duo helps head coach Chad Eshbaugh's T-birds average 84.2 ppg, the defense has been suspect at times, as they allow 73.3 ppg.
Dodge City (11-5)
The freshmen-heavy Conquistadors have six scorers averaging double figures. And the top four scorers are all freshmen. EJ Eaves, a 6-3 guard, and Larry Beckett, a 6-7 forward, lead head coach Kyle Campbell's squad with 17 ppg each, followed by guards Ameer Jackson (12.9) and George Brock (11.5).
Scott City's Brett O'Neil has started all 15 games for the Conqs, and while shooting 49 percent, he's averaging only 4.5 ppg.
Head coach Craig Fletchall's Cougars also boast a dangerous backcourt, with their top-three scorers all being guards: sophomores Darius Gibson (19.1 ppg) and Tyler Corley (15.5) and freshman Issac Williams (14.1).
Sophomore forward Raheem Johnson also chips in 11.1 ppg to the Cougars' 93.6 average. The Cougar defense is giving up 80.9 ppg.