2011-12 Winter Preview: Woodbury boys basketball team ready to pounceRoyals' experience could pay off on the court.
By: Mike Longaecker, Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
Things are already clicking in Scott Swansson’s world.
Offensive systems that took his team until January to learn last season are already in full swing, the Woodbury boys basketball coach said.
“Things are moving a lot faster this year,” he said.
Swansson and the Royals will be looking to improve on last year’s 11-17 (7-11 Suburban East Conference) season, which ended with a road loss in the section semifinals to Tartan.
By the look of things, that’s a distinct possibility, the 12-year coach said.
“Our maturity and experience should help us through the early part of the season,” Swansson said.
The Royals return eight of their top 10 players from last season. Key losses from last year are 2011 graduates Michael Policano and Andrew Ayeni.
This year Woodbury turns to senior guard Ricky Suggs and his brother – junior guard Renard Suggs, senior forward Connor McKeen and senior guard Ryan Fritze. Rounding out this year’s top players are senior guard Tyler Graves, junior guard Robert Claypool, senior forward Ben Rexroth and senior guard Pat Smith.
Ricky Suggs (12.9 points per game) and McKeen (12.7) were last season’s leading scorers, followed by Fritze, at 11.5.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who can score,” Swansson said.
Swansson said those players have been able to hit the ground running so far in practices.
“There’s a big difference between juniors and seniors,” he said.
Claypool returns to the court for the first time in nearly a year after sustaining a season-ending injury last season. Swansson said he expects to see Claypool return as a distributor-type point guard who plays hard on the defensive end.
Despite the experience advantage, Woodbury will have to overcome a lack of size. Swansson said SEC teams like Cretin-Derham Hall, White Bear Lake and Stillwater will have size advantages that the Royals will have to battle.
To compensate for the anticipated mismatches, Swansson said he’s been drilling his players on rebounding and gaining position under the net.
“We’ve still got a lot of hard work to put in,” he said.
Though his team may be undersized, Swansson said he expects this year’s early signs of improvement will mean victories in close games that went the other way last season.
“I think we have the chance to be in the upper echelon of the conference,” he said. “Maybe top-four in section.”