Greg Haberfield has taken the leap. Not off a cliff, but from jayvee coach to head varsity coach.
From Looking and talking to him, he either has nerves of steel or the magnitude of the position hasn't quite hit him just yet.
Haberfield, whether nervous about the new undertaking or not, is on a mission. The Buckeye Local basketball program has made some great strides over the past three years under now departed head coach Jay Morris and Haberfield has no plans of taking steps back.
T-L Photo/MIKE PALMER
PICTURED IS the 2013-14 Buckeye Local basketball team. Front row, from left, are Brendan Bobe, Logan Dehnart, Ryan Faulkner, Tyler Miller and Damion Beall. Back row, from left, head coach Greg Haberfield, assistant coach Joe Soos, Ryan Moffo, Cory Donahue, Brennan Czuchran, Jonathon Borkoski, Devan Pyciak, Chris Heaton and Wayne McCracken.
Haberfield was pretty successful on the jayvee level and had his teams playing well last season. Despite the loss of some veteran players, he is hoping to continue that success at the varsity level.
Morris left after last season following three years that saw the Panthers go from a 1-20 team to a team that compiled one of just a handful of winning seasons in the school's 23-year history on the court. Buckeye finished at 12-11.
As is so often the case, a new coach comes into the new role following a successful campaign, but one that also took with it a lot of talent through graduation.
"We've lost a lot of our varsity players from last year and we are looking for players to step into those roles. Although our players may not have much varsity experience, they understand our mentality of playing hard and being tenacious. If we continue to do the little things, everything else will eventually fall into place," Haberfield said looking at the past year and ahead to the next.
Buckeye graduated eight seniors off last year's team including record-setting wing Kyle Michalo.
Also gone from that talented group are Johnny Rozenek, the team's top rebounder and strong inside scorer; Caleb Agnew, a two-year starter; Shane Duncan; Dylan Williams; Tommy Hamilton; Austin Marshall and Braden Martin.
"Our focus this year has been to play together as a family," the first-year Panther boss pointed out. "We've continuously stressed the importance of being a good teammate, student, and community member. We believe that these characteristics carry over into the game of basketball and help shape our student-athletes to be accountable to themselves and to one another. Team togetherness is the first step to success and we take pride in how we do things."
"Brennan Czuchran has become the leader that everyone else on the team has looked up to. I can't say enough good things about Brennan. He leads by example both on and off of the basketball court on a consistent basis. He's in the gym more than any other player that I know; he's in the top 3 of his class academically and he's active in his community. We're looking forward to watching him compete and be a leader for our team this year," he stated.
Czuchran leads a senior contingent and has been a starter in each of the last three years. The 6-3 guard can play anywhere on the court and is regarded as one of the top returning players in the Ohio Valley. A very unselfish player through the years, Czuchran has a shot at becoming the school's first 1000-point scorer.Three other seniors will be counted on heavily by Haberfield this season. That group includes 6-2 Jonathon Borkoski, 6-1 Cory Donahue and 6-1 Devan Pyciak. All three will be called on to play at the guard or forward spots during the season.
"Jonathon Borkoski will also play a major role on the team as well. Jonathon has a knack for scoring and finds creative ways to do so. I feel that he'll get a lot of open looks this year and he has the capability to knock them down," Haberfield said.
"Cory Donahue has become our floor general at the point guard position. If Cory can find ways to get into the lane, I think a lot of things will open up for us offensively."
Five juniors will be seeing plenty of action at the varsity level.
Junior players are 6-0 forward Damion Beall, 5-10 forward Ryan Faulkner, 5-10 guard Tyler Miller, 5-7 guard Brendan Bobo and 6-1 forward Logan Dehnart.
"Damion Beall is going to be a key player for us this year. He is an all-out hustler and is always in the right position defensively and can be a scrapper around the glass. He has a major size disadvantage, but his work ethic more than makes up for it," the Panther coach said.
"We have some guys coming off the bench looking to give us some valuable minutes such as Tyler Miller, Jared Moore, and Dylan Dokes. Tyler has improved during the off-season and he understands his role when he's in the game," Haberfield added.
"We regularly discuss his importance of coming off of the bench as another ball handler and put us in our offensive sets. Jared and Dylan are both young guys on our team that have really began to stand out in the last couple of weeks at practice. As they continue to improve, I see more and more time for them into the season in order to give us more depth coming off of the bench."
Haberfield's varsity roster includes two sophomores in 6-1 forward Ryan Moffo and the 6-0 Dokes who will likely play at guard. One freshman on the varsity roster is multi-talented Jared Moore, a 5-11 guard.
"Ryan Moffo has been our biggest surprise this year. He's young and works very hard in all of our drills and continues to get better every day. We expect to see him get a lot of time on the floor and become a major contributor to our team."
"Devan Pyciak has become our enforcer on both ends of the floor. He's a physical presence and is willing to pound down low against our opponent's big men," the Buckeye coach added.
According to Haberfield, he has a good group that will be playing primarily at the jayvee level along with a few of the varsity players that might see extra time with the junior varsity. The group includes sophomores forward Chris DeCenzo, guard Cayden Hennen, guard Brandon Mayle, guar Robert Myers, guard Jacob Savage and freshmen forward Matt Carducci and forward DonRay Mayle.
Haberfield will be assisted by Joe Soos, Chris Heaton and Wayne McCracken. Soos will be the varsity assistant, Heaton, the junior varsity coach and McCracken will handle the freshmen.