Whittell has that winning feeling | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell has that winning feeling

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Winning hasn’t come easily to the Whittell High School boys’ basketball program since placing third in the state in 2001.

But the Warriors are hoping that an experienced and deep squad, coupled with a coaching change, will make them a winner in 2009-’10.

Energetic Tyler Rose, last year’s JV coach, takes over the program, which hasn’t produced a winning season in a decade and a half. Rose, who is the school’s fourth different varsity coach in the past four years, has been impressed with his new team’s passion for the game.

“One of the differences this year is their level of enthusiasm for basketball. You can see once they step on the court that they are excited to be here,” Rose said.

“They are growing together as a team, which last year that separated them as far as winning and losing. It was more individual-type effort.”

Before coming to Whittell, the 25-year-old Rose spent four years coaching basketball at Rex Putnam High School in Milwaukie, Ore. He served as a varsity assistant for two years, a junior varsity assistant and directed the school’s freshman summer program for a season. Rose also managed the school’s JV baseball program.

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Rose has become an immediate hit with his players.

“We all look up to coach Rose,” said junior Alex Potnick. “He can relate more to us. He’s really driving us, and we all want to win this year.”

Whittell hasn’t won more than eight games in a season since the school captured the regional championship in 2001. Since then, Whittell has compiled a 39-160 win-loss record – a mark that includes a few low-seeded playoff berths.

But the first-time varsity coach inherits a team that returns eight players, including four starters. Returners include seniors Cody Nelson, Sam Harris and Michael Koskin; and juniors Potnick, John Robinson, Alex Vogt, Blake Werle and Tanner Sigel. Following a winter on the ski team, Adam Laub rejoins the program for his senior season.

That wealth of experience has created excitement throughout the team.

“Other teams lost a lot of players, and we still have our group,” Potnick said. “I’m looking forward to this season. I think we’re going to do real well. I think the other schools are overlooking us, but I think it would be regretful to do so.”

The experienced group will have a number of offensive weapons, but the team does lack a natural post player.

“Obviously size is an issue for us, so we have to get our game plan strategized to where we can utilize what we have,” Rose said. “We may run a three- to four-guard offense with a lot of motion game, hoping to utilize the one post down on the block.”

Last year, to compensate for a size disadvantage and playing against more talented teams, the Warriors ran a 1-3-1 defense and extended it full court at times. Rose watched those players often break down defensively because they failed to communicate and assist one another.

“They gave up once the ball was passed ahead. They’d turn around straight-legged and walk back or not hustle back to help each other out,” Rose said. “The one thing I’m doing to change that is really trying to focus on their communication: Where the help defense is supposed to be, who’s got ball, who’s got deny and where you are supposed to be on the court by talking with each other. If they are able to do that, their defense isn’t going to be a big issue or weakness. “

Many of the Whittell players were infants the last time the school enjoyed a winning season. To win, the Warriors will need to put a history of losing behind them.

Even the regional championship team in 2001 finished with a 14-14 record. In fact, one has to go all the way back to the 1993-’94 season to find the Warriors’ last winning team. That Warrior team, which was led by Nick Crawford, Chris Witte and Beau Baiocchi, finished second in league and advanced to state during a 17-9 campaign.

“We came close last year. A lot of our games we were losing just by a couple of points,” Koskin said. “I feel that we didn’t lose a lot of players, and a lot of other teams are losing players. We’re getting stronger, and as we get more connected as a team we can make it to the playoffs.”

2009-10 Whittell boys’ basketball schedule

Date Opponent Time

Nov. 30 YERINGTON 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 1 At Smith Valley 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 3-5 At Dayton tourney TBA

Dec. 8 At Yerington 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 10-12 Comstock Classic TBA

Dec. 16 At Dayton 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 28 GOLDEN SIERRA 6 p.m.

Jan. 5 SILVER STAGE 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 8 At Rite of Passage 6:30 p.m.

Jan. 9 LOVELOCK 3:30 p.m.

Jan. 16 BATTLE MTN. 3:30 p.m.

Jan. 19 PORTOLA 6 p.m.

Jan. 22 At North Tahoe 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 23 At Silver Stage 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 27 At Incline 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 29 ROP 6:30 p.m.

Jan. 30 At Lovelock 3:30 p.m.

Feb. 2 INCLINE 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 6 At Battle Mountain 4:30 p.m.

Feb. 12 NORTH TAHOE 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 17-20 Regionals TBA

Feb. 26-27 State (Reno) TBA

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