One thing Truckee boys basketball never lacks is athleticism.
The one thing it does lack, however, is playoff experience.
The new-look Wolverines hope to change that this season under first-year head coach Patrick Irvin, who took over the program after former head coach Angelo Tenorio resigned in the offseason.
"They are very passionate about basketball and they really want to see the program do well," Irvin said of his players. "They made the playoffs last year, and they're excited to build on that."
The Wolverines played into the opening round of the Northern 3A regional playoff tournament (now Division I-A) last season before losing to Elko, 42-34. They finished 11-12 overall.
But it's a new year, and the Wolverines like their chances to play deeper into the postseason - once the team rounds into form, that is. They got off to a bit of a slow start, as several players could not come out until football season ended on Nov. 17, following a fourth consecutive state championship.
"We still have a long way to go," said Irvin, an Oregon native who coached high school basketball in Portland and Montana most recently, before moving to Truckee in mid November. "I think our potential is very high. With football, we started about two weeks after most teams, so we're a little bit behind, but I expect us to improve quicker than an average team would. As long as we keep improving, I think we're going to be OK."
Truckee will lean heavily on its top returners - seniors Adam Morgan and David Burnham, both forwards, and senior point guard Graham Millie. Irvin also hopes to receive solid contributions from his younger players off the bench. Burnham, Morgan and Millie are co-team captains, Irvin said.
"Our seniors are definitely our leaders. They're probably going to score 70 percent of our points," the coach said, a day after the trio combined for 49 points in a 63-37 win over Quincy.
Morgan said the three seniors have accepted their leadership role, and take pride in it.
"It is kind of on our shoulders, although the younger guys should help out a lot," Morgan said. "Hopefully we can build it to what the football program is some day."
Millie received All-League honorable mention last season along with fellow guard Nash McMullen, who did not come out for the team this year. Luckily for the Wolverines, however, senior Aaron Pado did, and he plays a distinctly similar brand of basketball - fast. Pado hasn't played basketball since the eight grade.
"He's a very good athlete," Irvin said of his backup point guard. "He hasn't played much basketball, so it took him a while to catch up. But he's playing well now. He's just now started to really get some confidence. He gives us a lot of speed on the court."
Junior guard Sean Daniel and sophomore guard Nick Oberriter join Morgan, Burnham and Millie in the Wolverines' starting lineup, while senior Chris Towle and juniors Nick Morgan, Tanner Trask, Henry Blinoff, Ian Wilson and Kyle Mellow round out the roster.
Irvin expects Towle, Wilson and Mellow to help Morgan and Burnham in the post, as the Wolverines do not boast a whole lot of height. Instead, they rely more on their quickness and athleticism to get to the hoop, the coach said.
"We don't have a true back-to-the-basket post player, so we have a lot of guys that I would say are slasher-type guys, as opposed to pure post players," Irvin said. "We don't really have any true catch-and-shoot guys either. We have guys who like to slash to the basket and pull up for jumpers, that kind of thing, using their athletic ability to get to the basket."
Truckee is off to a 3-5 start so far, with wins against Fallon, Yerington and Quincy. The Wolverines were scheduled to make up a home game against Fallon on Friday, but the game was postponed due to the weather. Truckee next plays Jan. 2 at Dayton.