Nov 30, 2022

2022-23 Preseason Profile: Ell-Saline boy's basketball

Posted Nov 30, 2022 11:32 PM

Salina Post contributor

Coverage of Cardinals hoops is presented by Salina Ortho: Quality orthopedic care when you need it!
Coverage of Cardinals hoops is presented by Salina Ortho: Quality orthopedic care when you need it!

Despite finishing their 2021-22 campaign just 3-18 the Ell-Saline boy's basketball team took a big step in the right direction and will look to continue to build on that this season.

The Cardinals will once again be under the direction of head coach Marty Wendel, who enters his third year at the helm in Brookville.

Ell-Saline graduated three seniors over the offseason, but returns a great deal of their core for the upcoming season, with a familiar starting five that should look something like this come tip-off.

G- Garrison Zerger (So)
G- Marshall Johnson (Jr)
G- Brogan Rowley (So)
F- Melvin Lutes (So)
F- Kade Wilson (Sr)

The Cardinals will also look to Joe Hiechel, Carter Heil, Kas Kramer, Reese Krone, and Jake Tillberg for big minutes off the bench this year.

Ahead of the winter season, we had an opportunity to visit with Coach Wendel and get his thoughts on his team amidst the rebuild in Brookville.

Q: What were your overall thoughts on the 2021-22 campaign?

A: Last season was a good step in the right direction for our program. We were extremely young with a program that was still just a year into being built. Most people would see three wins and think it was a horrible season, but I found it to be the complete opposite. We battled with ranked teams in 1 and 2A on a nightly basis and saw a ton of improvement from start to finish. Those battles helped us mature and grow as a group which will pay off immensely this season. 

Q: How excited is everyone to get back on the floor and back to playing real games after a long offseason?

A: We’ve had great practices so far with guys getting after one another every day in practice. It’s time for us to show off all that work on Friday and I can assure you we are ecstatic to finally compete against someone other than our teammates. We also know we are a much better team this season and that just helps bring more excitement and buzz within the program. 

Q: Coming into the year what would you say is the biggest strength of this team?

A: Our biggest strength has to be our depth which makes practice that much more intense. Guys are competing in every second of every practice for time. We have 10 guys that could step on a varsity floor right now and hold their own, if not be one of the best players on the floor. That makes for some intense, physical, and competitive practices that allow us to get that much better every day. We also have six guys who played major varsity minutes last season which brings us experience and a sense of comfort. 

Q: What are the biggest question marks about this team as we head into the first few weeks?

A: The biggest one will be how well we execute defensively as we are implementing different looks that each have different sets of rules and principles. We are going to have to communicate a ton on the defensive end to be successful because of the different things we’re going to do. If we can't communicate or we aren’t engaged and know what defense we’re in then we are going to struggle to stop teams.

Q: What are the goals and expectations of this team for this 2022-23 campaign?

A: I haven't been a huge goal and expectation person in my first two years here because I knew the struggles we were going to face. However, this season brings a different feeling knowing we’re a much better team. We expect to win every game this season, there isn't a team on our schedule that I look at and think we truly don't have a chance against. Are we going to have to play really well to beat some? Sure, but we are absolutely capable of doing it. I have three big goals for us this season and they are to have a winning record, finish top four in our league, and win at least one game at sub-state. 

Ell-Saline will tip off their season on Friday, December 2nd when the Cardinals host the Herington Railers in Brookville.

For continuing coverage of Cardinals basketball all season long, stay tuned to the Salina Post.