Just like recent years, the Garden City Buffaloes will have to rely on shooting, speed and transition points entering the 2018-19 season.
The Buffaloes still will not have much frontline size — though, a couple of rotation players do add some height — but are senior-heavy and return a special 3-point shooter as they prepare to open the season at 7:45 p.m. Friday at The Garden, where they will host Guymon, Okla.
“We will be small on the inside, but we will have plenty of guards that can play at a fast pace and should have the ability to defend bigger players,” ninth-year head coach Jacy Holloway said. “We will have to create mismatches with our smaller post players out on the perimeter.”
The Buffs return junior guard Carlos Acosta, as well as a plethora of seniors from last season’s 13-9 record. Acosta averaged 7.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game last year, hitting 41 percent of his 3-pointers (22 of 54).
“He turned down a lot of shots last year,” Holloway said. “We couldn’t get him to take more shots last year. This year, he’s a lot more aggressive. That’s been nice to see.”
Acosta will start at point for the Buffs, with senior Kyler Lamb at guard, junior Azavier Williams at No. 3, senior Jarrod Springston at the four-spot and senior Jackson Dirks in the post.
Springston scored 6.7 points and hauled in 3.7 rebounds per game last season and Lamb averaged 4.4 and 2.2. It will be the first varsity experience for Williams and Dirks, the latter of which adds a 6-foot-5 body inside for the Buffs.
“He knows what we’re trying to get out of him and he understands his role,” Holloway said of how Dirks earned the starting spot. “He’s going to help us with rebounding, offensively and defensively. He’s not going to go out there and score 20 points. He’s bought into that, and a couple of the other post players haven’t quite bought into that, yet.”
Dirks has also shown the ability to run the floor the way the Buffs want to on offense coming into the year, even if they have not gotten the transition offense down quite yet.
In practice, the Buffs have struggled to understand “the difference between taking quick, OK shots, as opposed to moving it a little bit more and getting a great shot,” Holloway said. “When we decided to make them play fast, we had to speed them up to an almost too-fast pace.”
The focus now is slowing down just a bit in order to stay on balance and in control, and also transitioning into half-court if a shot doesn’t present itself in transition.
And maintaining energy on defense is a concern, as well.
“I’m hoping to see we would be able to sustain the speed we want to play at and still be able to play defense,” Holloway said. “A lot of teams who play really fast don’t play great defense, necessarily.”