ARTHUR — "I think we are doing a pretty good job on the boards, especially offensively," said Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond boys' basketball coach Dale Schuring, whose team entered Friday's non-conference game against Oakwood with a 1-1 record. "We did a much better job defensively against Martinsville (54-40 win). We have to go to the boards on both ends, and that has to be a strength of the team."
Height is not a problem for the Knights, who have five returning lettermen from last year's 9-18 team, including 6-8 senior Colton Romine and 6-3 senior Will Cohan.
"It is probably one of the bigger teams that I have had," said Schuring, who is in his 15th season with a 251-140 (.642) prior to the season starting. "It is not the biggest team I have had, but it is right up there."
Other returning lettermen are senior Kobe Wells (6-2) along with juniors Austin Romine and Adam Day.
Cohan is the top returning scorer at 9.7 points per game, while Wells is second at 6.9 and Colton Romine third at 6.6 points.
"Kobe Wells is listed at 6-1, but he has long arms and plays much bigger," said Schuring. "Will Cohan has grown a little since last year and has good length. Some players play taller or bigger because of their arm length and things like that. Kobe has both length and is a very athletic kid, and Austin and Adam Day are athletic kids. I think we have a decent mix of length and athleticism to go with it."
Gone from last year due to graduation is second-team all-Little Okaw Valley Conference player Shandon Herschberger, who averaged 7.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game. Three other seniors also graduated.
"The biggest thing Shandon brought was his handling of the basketball," said Schuring. "That is probably the most difficult part to replace."
The Knights began the season with a 44-43 loss to Sullivan.
"Taking care of the basketball is something we have been working on," said Schuring. "We had a very large amount of turnovers in the first game (23). It is something we have to stress (the Knights also had 23 against Martinsville) and work on daily in practice. I think another thing we have to work on is our shot selection. It was much better against Martinsville, especially in the second half."
Schuring said Day is the point guard currently.
"I told (the team): everyone will have to be able to handle the basketball. It may be based on who is the best matchup on who handles the ball for us."
A total of 32 players are in the program, including a large freshman class of 15. There are also six juniors, eight sophomores and three seniors.
"We have a very large group of freshmen or first-year players, and so practices are similar to football in that we are taking it slower so we can grasp what we are trying to get down and add things as the season goes along," said Schuring. "The varsity kids did a very good job at the end-of-the-game situations against Sullivan. I was very pleased with how that went because we had not really talked about that much."
Last season the Knights averaged 41.6 points per game and allowed 50.1.
"At this point, we are not going to press," said Schuring. "We will be more of a half-court team at this point."
Prior to Friday's game, Austin Romine and Cohan led the team in scoring with averages of 14.5 and 11.5 points per game. Wells is the top rebounder with an average of 9.0 per game.
A-L-A-H finished 2-4 in the Little Okaw Valley Conference Northwest Division.
"I see Decatur LSA, Argenta-Oreana and Okaw Valley at the top three," said Schuring of the division.
As for his goals for the team, Schuring, who is assisted by Dallas Kirkwood and Spencer Kirby, said, "It is a matter of improving every day. If I had to nail it down, I want to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season."