Basketball Preview: Eden program remains a work in progress
Coming into the second season under head coach Gary Vara, Eden is better identifying what kind of team it will be and the system it will run, but the Raiders remain a work in progress.
Eden will be in transition as it attempts to replace a number of top scorers and rebounders, in addition to a player projected to be a starter but recently transferred to another school. The Raiders will attempt to better their two-win season from last year, relying on four players returning, three of which saw significant time on the floor last year.
“We’re a young team with only three experienced kids from last year,” said Vara whose team went winless in ECIC Division IV last year. “We are a work in progress and we play in a real tough division. But a lot of kids that are back (with the program) have gotten the system down.”
Of the returning players, Brad Palmerton will be an important piece for Eden as the junior moves from the point to shooting guard to replace classmate Kevin Tierney, who transferred to East Aurora. Vara said Palmerton is very quick and a good decision maker.
Senior Matt Bialy will man the point position this season in his second year with the varsity, while classmate Jon Lyndsley moves into the team’s starting power forward spot. Vara likes Bialy’s speed and shooting ability and he said Lyndsley can be a terror on the boards.
Varsity newcomers moving into starting spots include big sophomore center Hayden Herc, a volleyball standout in the fall, and junior small forward AJ Feldman, who’s got the ability to make shots. Senior Brett Gilson has improved his game with work in the offseason and will serve as the team’s sixth man, according to Vara.
Also expected to contribute are Louie Bartus at power forward, Kyle Gibbon at small forward and senior newcomers Evan Reinig, a forward, and Anthony Sinnott, a guard. Ryan Graesser rounds out the squad.
Among the six players lost to graduation are leading scorer Joe Slisz and rebounding forwards Ryan John and Garrett Lavelle. Eden will be smaller than it was last season, so Vara wants his team in constant motion, pushing the ball on offense and working on defense and rebounding.
“They know we want to play hard man-to-man defense and I’m hoping for them to be physical,” said Vara, who’s being assisted this season by John Herc, the father of Hayden. “I want them hitting the boards and then pushing the ball.”
Vara said the team’s goal is to break into the win column in the division. Vara planned some tough tune-up games, scrimmaging the likes of Frontier and starting the season with St. Francis.
Eden boys 2012-13 schedule
Tues., Nov. 27 at St. Francis 6:30 pm
Wed., Dec. 5 at Cleveland Hill 6:30 pm
Sat., Dec. 8 vs Lake Shore 1:30 pm
Tues., Dec. 11 at Orchard Park 7:30 pm
Tues, Dec. 18 vs Lackawanna 7 pm
Thur., Dec. 20 at Tonawanda 6:30 pm
Thur., Jan 3 vs Cleveland Hill 7 pm
Mon., Jan 7 vs Holland 7:30 pm
Fri., Jan. 11 at JFK 7 pm
Tues., Jan. 15 at Alden 7 pm
Fri., Jan. 18 at Gow School 7:30 pm
Tues., Jan. 22 at Springville 6:30 pm
Fri., Jan. 25 at Lackawanna 7 pm
Tues., Jan. 29 vs Tonawanda 7 pm
Thurs., Jan. 31 at Holland 6:30 pm
Mon, Feb. 4 vs JFK 7 pm
Fri., Feb. 8 vs Alden 7 pm
Mon., Feb. 18 vs Gow School 7 pm