AUBURN — Players are seeing a familiar face in the head coaching position for Lakewood Park Christian boys basketball this year.
Steve Oberlin is back for a second year after being the team’s fourth coach in four years last season, following Wayne Brooks, Rod Wilmont and Chad Hibbard.
Oberlin also will be seeing familiar faces, players who got thrown into the fire last season as the Panthers went 7-16.
“We were young. We didn’t have much experience,” Oberlin said. “The year before I got there, we had nine seniors. We didn’t have a lot of varsity experience (last season).
“I thought we did well. We play a pretty tough schedule.”
The Panthers put in a good summer as well, giving Oberlin an optimistic view of the season ahead.
“A number of guys played AAU,” Oberlin said. “We played at Goshen and Purdue Fort Wayne, and we played in some tournaments. We had pretty good success.”
Oberlin plans for his Panthers to play a fast, high-pressure style.
“We’ll probably be fast and push the ball a lot, and play pressure D,” he said. “We’ll press a lot.
“We’re going to be disciplined defensively with a lot of pressure and get after them.”
The discipline is key in the faster style to keep the team out of foul trouble. Oberlin said the Panthers play about nine deep, but wants his scorers not to be bogged down by fouls.
Caedmon Bontrager will be a force inside with size for the Panthers. Josh Pike and T.J. Faur also return after lettering last year.
Giovi Talarico hopes for a full season after suffering a broken arm in the fourth game last year, and returning late in the campaign.
“Unselfish play (will be important),” Oberlin said. “Bontrager is going to be a big part of it, with his size and height, and ability to score. We have a lot of other scorers around him, and that adds a lot. If you stop one, you’re going to have to stop another. We should be hard to defend.”