Bulldogs shift focus of scoring to paint
McLouth boys basketball coach Jason Schroeder noticed that whenever Ryan Smith went into the paint last season, he usually came out of the pack with the ball.
Schroeder also noticed that Smith primarily liked to hang out along the perimeter and shoot three-pointers.
This season, expect those three-point attempts to diminish.
"We're going to try to flash him through the paint more rather than settling for threes this year," Schroeder said of the senior. "When he gets an offensive rebound, he gets the ball back up without getting blocked. He loves to shoot threes and is a good three-point shooter, but we need to get him in the paint."
The paint is where McLouth may score the majority of its points this season. To go along with the slashing Smith, the Bulldogs added 6-foot-7 transfer student Aaron Roberts to the mix this season.
McLouth will operate with four guards and one post player -- Roberts -- on offense. The idea is to find Roberts whenever he's open and to create cutting lanes for the guards.
McLouth finished 10-12 last year under Schroeder, who enters his second season as coach at MHS.
McLouth has three returning starters, in seniors Smith, Mark Stewart and Mike Rome. Roberts will also start, which leaves one more spot open.
According to Schroeder, junior Derrick Crouse has played well lately and might occupy the final spot before McLouth's first home game at 6 p.m. Thursday against Oskaloosa.
The other likely candidates for the starting spot are seniors Vincent Brauer and Adam Shaver. Brauer missed the majority of last season with an ACL injury. His recovery has impressed Schroeder and will earn him playing time, regardless of whether he starts.
"Vincent has good quickness and is very aggressive," Schroeder said. "Sometimes that gets him in trouble, but overall it's going to cause headaches for other teams."
Stewart will also give the Bulldogs a defensive lift. Stewart, who has started since his sophomore year, will be the Bulldogs defensive specialist. Schroeder will most likely assign him to the opposing team's best player.
"He's strong and quick," Schroeder said of Stewart, who stands at 5-10. "With his strength, we'd use him to guard guys who are a lot taller than he was. He makes up for that size with his strength around the block. Then, he out-quicks them as well."
McLouth won't have much time before its Delaware Valley League tournament, which begins Tuesday.
"We're mainly looking to improve every day," Schroeder said. "My expectations are to always focus mostly on defense and control the pace with the effort we put out. Some nights the ball goes in and some it doesn't. But we can control how hard we'll play." McLouth's game on Thursday will be a play-in game for the opportunity to play in the Dec. 4 Delaware Valley League Tournament.
Since the Bulldogs didn't finish in the Top 5 of their league last season, they didn't receive an automatic spot in the tournament. The bottom six teams, including McLouth, will play one game a piece to see which three teams will round out the DVL tournament field.