MATTOON -- The new-look Lake Land men’s basketball team was on display for the first time this season when the Lakers hosted Lindenwood’s junior varsity team.
Gone from last season’s 17-14 team are Lake Land’s top six scorers and its top six rebounders. Lake Land coach Brandon Colvin does have some returners back and he brought in eight freshmen to round out the roster.
The first game against Lindenwood showed Lake Land has a good nucleus to work with. A run early in the first half helped separate the Lakers from Lindenwood and Lake Land went on to win the game 119-81.
Colvin said it was good to get a game like this in early on in the season.
“It was good to get everybody in and out and give everyone a chance to play. Games like this, that’s the whole goal, give everyone a chance to play and get them in and out,” Colvin said. “My whole thing was there were times in the second half that we let up defensively. That’s something you don’t want when you play all of the guys. It was a good start and I thought some guys played well.”
Colvin wants a full 40-minutes of effort on the defensive end because he knows that’s how the team is going to win games since the Lakers have to replace so much offense.
“My biggest thing was defense. Defensively, we are quicker than last year and we shouldn’t be beaten like we were,” Colvin said. “Defensive rebounding wise, they were getting north and south on us. I thought we did a great job the first 10 minutes of the second half. We held them to 12 points and were defending and then guys got bored, jogging through cuts and then (Lindenwood) hit some three’s and it’s a 20-point game again. Those lulls against better teams will defeat us.
“This team can be as good defensively as they want, but they have to want it and want it for 40 minutes. This group is a high IQ group and they do work hard.”
The Lakers won’t be lacking offensively, though. Lake Land shot 71.4 percent in the win (45-of-63) and five players finished in double figures. Scott McGann led Lake Land with 19 points, Allante Harper and Hunter White each scored 14 points, Charleston graduate Darrell Phillips had 12 points and Tromon Weston scored 10 points.
McGann added seven rebounds and he hit two three-pointers. Colvin likes the work McGann put in during the offseason.
“Scott played well and he hit his shots from the outside. He had some good drives and finished it well around the basket,” Colvin said. “He will take a big step forward. He grew two inches and added 19 pounds. You could tell he played all summer. He looked good and he has a chance to do some good things for us.”
Last year Lake Land leaned on Josh Jefferson to provide key buckets at key times. This year Colvin said the scoring will be more by committee, which is what it was the scoring was like against Lindenwood.
“Our freshmen, Hunter White has the chance to be good and I think Adam (Price) will shoot better than he did. I see us having five or six guys in the 10 to 12-point range and one guy step up and be the 15 to 17-point guy,” Colvin said. “I think it’s going to be scoring by committee. Last year they could key on our top two guys. We are missing that guy that can get 20 points easy but we have more guys that can get to the basket and create for others which is something we didn’t have last year.”
Lake Land’s next game is Saturday at Kennedy King College in Chicago.
“It’s good to get the first win out of the way,” Colvin said. “We will have a tougher game against Kennedy King. They will be bigger and more athletic and they will be a better team. Then it gets right into it with conference play so it doesn’t get any easier from this point on.”
Contact Justin Rust at (217) 238-6856. Follow him on Twitter: @JustinRust