LHS boys struggling with depth issues this season
The Lansing High boys basketball team may be a tough squad to figure out when watching them play in the Tonganoxie Invitational Tournament.
On one hand, the Lions have practically no depth. They use a six- or seven-man rotation at all times and rely on their starting five for about 95 percent of their offense. On the other hand, Lansing at times plays like it can beat anybody and be a state tournament contender. You just never know which team is going to show up.
Depth is the primary issue that determines how well the Lions play. If they're having an off day shooting, there isn't anybody to turn to for help. If they pick up too many early fouls that usually spells trouble.
"Our biggest issue this year is obviously going to be depth," coach Don Allen said. "We've got a pretty good core that have been on the floor of a varsity basketball game, but we've got to find some guys who can come in and help us in the six, seven and eight spots.
"If that happens, that's going to be fantastic, but it takes a while sometimes."
None of Lansing's reserves saw a single second of varsity action last year, and junior starters David Kern and Jeff Slater are the only returning starters from last year's squad. Juniors Cody Mohan, Chris Wagner and Matt Warner join them in the starting lineup and are the only returners with varsity experience.
Beyond those five, the cupboard is pretty bare.
Junior forward Ryan Robbins and sophomore forward Jeff Jackson have filled in nicely in spurts, but haven't challenged the starters for minutes.
Tired legs hurt Lansing in the early going as it dropped two of three games at the Bonner Springs Metro Prep Tip-off Tournament to open the season. After a few days' rest, the Lions throttled Basehor-Linwood, 55-42. Then the depth problem returned in losses to Mill Valley and Piper.
As troublesome as the depth issue has been, poor shooting has only added to Lansing's woes. Slater is the Lions' top scorer, averaging just over 12 points per game, while Kern averages 10 per game and Wagner chips in nine.
Wagner has been the most effective outside shooter for Lansing, sinking 31 percent of his three-pointers. As a team, however, LHS is hitting just 18 percent from beyond the arc.
That said, the Lions are capable of shooting themselves into games just as quickly as they can shoot themselves out of games.
"We've got good shooters," Allen said. "We haven't been as aggressive offensively, and it'll come.
"I haven't really been too concerned about it. They understand that when they get open looks we expect them to knock them down."