With Lehman’s tradition in football, new head basketball coach Tim Gleason was no doubt fully prepared to see his first season start late.
But now the wait is over.
Lehman is starting a week later than the rest of the teams in the county thanks to the football team again making it to postseason play. The Cavaliers will play twice at home to usher in Gleason’s first campaign, though, hosting Hardin Northern in Northwest Central Conference action Friday, then taking on Newton in the Lehman gym Saturday.
“It’s really been difficult,” said Gleason of preseason. “I’ve only had my center for three practices, and the football players for just a little over a week. Then you add in Thanksgiving, and all these kids go out of town. I’m just thankful we had the summer stuff.”
He needed as much time in the gym he could get because the Cavaliers have little to no experience returning from last season. But he enters this weekend’s games confident, and with the feeling that this will be a team that is constantly improving.
“We had some scrimmages, but for the first two I had a skeleton crew,” he said. “So we’re really raw. But we’re very athletic and the kids have come a long way. We still have a long way to go, but as the season goes, I think this team will progress more than most teams because we’re starting out so green, with a new coach and a short amount of time to get ready. I would say by midseason, we will have come a long way.”
Gleason said his Cavs will take on a team in the exact opposite situation Friday night to open NWCC play.
“Hardin Northern has seven of their top eight players back from last year,” Gleason said. “They only lost one senior, so they are kinda the opposite of us. But we still feel good about our chances against them because of our athleticism. They aren’t very big, so I do expect to have a size advantage. They have a lot of players back. I just don’t know how much they’ve improved.”
Hardin Northern is 1-0, while Saturday’s foe, Newton, takes a 1-0 mark into a Friday game. That win was in overtime over Houston.
“Newton’s guard play is my main concern,” Gleason said. “The game will come down to how we handle that.”
He said Bunker, a 6-4 sophomore, will start in the post for the Cavs. The guards will be Dylan Arnold and Stephen Monnin and the forwards Ben Frantz and Max Schutt. But plenty of other players on the bench can expect to see action this weekend.
“We’re very deep, and I expect to go deep into our bench,” Gleason said. “The guys are ready to go.”
Reach Ken Barhorst at 937-538-4818