During its run to the Division II state final last season, Gilmour used several players and styles of offense to advance to Dayton. Three of those key pieces are back this season in Brandon Rose, Adisa Molton and Dorjan Flowers.
However, the Lancers face a steep task of finding ways to replace key pieces in two facets of their game. The first is their height on the inside.
While nobody comes close to the pair of Nathan Nootbaar and Ryan Mueller, who were 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-6, respectively, the Lancers saw a season ago Brandon Rose get involved on the boards, as well.
The second is in their 3-point shooting ability as two strong shooters in Mueller and Nathan Flaherty are gone. Gilmour coach Dan DeCrane knows that while they can’t replace the size, his team also has a different skill set than a season ago.
“Every year is different, a lot like chapters in a book,” DeCrane said. “We have a very different focus going into this season. We have to reinvent ourselves in some way, we have a lot of young players that have skills and a lot of early opportunities. We’re preparing our players for their path and that’s a good challenge for them. We see a lot of different competition, especially early in our schedule.”
While he’s the returning leading rebounder, the entire load on the boards isn’t going to be on Rose’s shoulders. Instead, the Lancers will introduce a rebound-by-committee system that will allow for plays where Rose can sit in both the mid-range as well as deep.
Rose has taken it upon himself to continue to improve on the boards as well, putting in extra reps during practice as well as going up against everyone and anyone during the Lancers’ scrimmages.
“Every day at practice we work a lot on the rebounding drills against the JV or even against some of the other varsity guys,” Rose said. “It helps everyone get a lot tougher but also learn how to read the ball coming off of the rim. All of us are going to be counted on for the rebounding side of things and being able to simulate that at practice will be a big help with the coming season.”
While Rose can contribute in the scoring aspect of the game as well as on the glass, it’s also a plus to have Molton and Flowers back in the fold. While DeCrane is happy to have several voices on the floor, he is also hoping to see a big leap from Flowers.
During the lead-up to the season, he has seen Flowers continue to improve on both sides of the ball. One place he expects the most improvement from is as a scorer, as last season he averaged 6.6 points a game.
DeCrane has seen Flowers become a strong option for the Lancers as their two guard and knows that he’s going to get his share of opportunities.
“He’s probably one of the best athletes in the school,” DeCrane said. “He can do a little bit of everything for us. His scoring abilities will increase along with his scoring opportunities and he can make plays for us at both ends of the floor. Every possession he can have an impact. Brandon can score at all three levels, Adisa has become even more of a coach on the floor as well to help everyone.”
Outside of that trio, it’s a bevy of new faces on the Gilmour bench. Only two players, David Pfundstein and Jackson Wahl, saw minutes a season ago.
With all the new faces, both DeCrane as well as the returning players knew that they needed to find a rhythm as soon as they could. They capitalized as soon as scrimmages could be scheduled and went against Brecksville and Richmond Heights.
“The whole preseason coach has had us doing a lot of open gyms and lifting sessions,” Rose said. “We’re scrimmaging tough teams as well and that has helped us get a lot closer as a team. It’s allowed us to get to know each other on a personal level as well as an athletic level and that has us excited for the first game of the season.”
Along with an almost brand new bench, Gilmour also has two new members in the starting lineup in sophomore Zac Titas and junior Jimmy Lawless. Both offer strong skill sets to the Lancers but had little to no experience against the varsity level of talent.
With the two new pieces, DeCrane knew that getting them accustomed to much bigger roles was a high priority this season and made sure it was a focus as soon as coaches could get in contact with the players.
“Zach saw some brief time in our tournament run last year,” DeCrane said. “He’s 6-foot-2 and can shoot really well. He’s also able to get the ball inside and that ability to do both will be big for us this season. Jimmy can provide a great catch-and-shoot threat for us, a lot like Nathan Flaherty last year. The only difference is he’s smaller but also a little quicker. The leadership of those three is unparalleled. It’s not often that you can say you have three players in your back court that have four years of varsity experience. But they don’t wear that as showing what they’ve done, their vocal and can lead by example.”
The Lancers start their season as a part of the Cleveland Classic event held at Baldwin-Wallace on Nov. 27. They will face Toledo St. John’s at 3:30 p.m.