Basehor-Linwood boys go back to basics with eye on success
Bobcats keeping goals to themselves, embracing approach that produced a 4A state championship in 2009
If there is one theme going through the gym at Basehor-Linwood boys basketball practices this season, it’s this: Be prepared to play the next game.
By their own admission, the Bobcats are going back to basics, stressing defense and being active. They are focused on their December games and not worrying about what’s to come in January and February or the postseason.
Coach Mike McBride said he wants this team to focus on getting better. Publicly, there are not a lot of goals coming out of the Bobcats’ camp.
“We are not going to put any goals, kind of like we did four years ago,” he said. “We’re going to take it one game at a time.”
McBride was referencing the 2008-2009 season where the Bobcats posted a 22-4 record and won the Class 4A state championship. Since then, BLHS has been ousted in the substate finals two straight years by eventual state champion Sumner Academy, but the Bobcats have battled some in-season struggles as well.
McBride said he spent a month at the end of last season evaluating his approach to preparing the team. He said he wanted to get back to the fundamentals.
“I definitely approached this year differently,” he said. “We went back to old- school, hard-work, nonstanding and defensive-oriented practices. We are going back to the roots, I guess.”
McBride is stressing defense early in the season, and he is pleased everyone is healthy.
“We are working hard, and all of it is defensive oriented,” he said. “We are trying to fix some things I didn’t do well as a coach last year.”
The Bobcats have eight players who figure to play significant minutes.
The top three returners are familiar names. Twin brothers Ryan and Colin Murphy return for their senior seasons. In addition, junior Ben Johnson is a returning letter-winner.
“They are the three guys returning,” McBride said. “We return a big percentage of points and rebounding. You are looking at three guys who have a lot of basketball intelligence. All of them play all five spots on the floor. We have three of the most diverse players in 4A.”
The other returners include Ryan Schaeffer, a 5-foot-6 guard who is very quick, and Brad Waterman, a 6-3 senior guard, as well as perimeter threats Caleb Hiss and Tanner Garver.
Chase Younger is a newcomer who McBride believes should help the team.
“That kid is 5-10, and he is deceptively quick,” McBride said of Younger. “He can take it to the hole. It takes it uncanny ability to score. He has a different looking shot, and he can hit the 3-pointer and the 15-footer. He is lightning quick, and he’s probably the third or fourth best player as a sophomore.”
BLHS opens the season at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tonganoxie.
Rather than playing a preseason tournament this year, BLHS has added a few high-profile, regular-season games. The Bobcats will play in the Hy-Vee Shootout against Columbia (Mo.) Rockbridge on Dec. 12 at Avila University, as well as Dec. 21 at home against Topeka Hayden. The Bobcats also have a Jan. 4 game against Sumner Academy.
“We put the toughest schedule that we can find together,” McBride said. “The league is up, and I don’t say that every year.”
In Kaw Valley League play, McBride expects tough games every night. Lansing is a Class 5A state title contender after finishing fourth at state last year, and McBride also pointed to Bonner Springs and Mill Valley as strong, talented opponents. He also noted that Piper has a young coach who could make a quick impact with the Pirates.