Not much has changed for the Carson High boys basketball team over the years. The Senators again will be an athletic team with relatively little size who will be going up against mostly bigger squads.
But Carson coach Bruce Barnes hopes to shake things up just a little bit as he prepares his team for the 2005-2006 season. Barnes said Carson will again try to use the same up tempo style it has always had to take advantage of its athleticism. But he also sees some subtle differences in this year's team.
"We're trying to do a few things a little bit different to take advantage of the personnel we have," Barnes said.
Carson returns six seniors who all have extensive experience. While much of his 12-man roster doesn't have that much game-time experience, Ten of the 12 players on Barnes roster have considerable experience in the program. Barnes also said his team has had a strong work ethic during the off season.
"It won't be a dear in headlights syndrome," Barnes said. "They have a lot of practice experience."
Five of Carson's returning seniors saw considerable game-time last year: Adam Houghton, Jack Jacquet, Jake Jeffers, Steve Mandoki and Kevin Brush. All are athletic. The group is led by Houghton, who returns as the starting point guard.
The sixth returning senior is Jeremiah Teeter, who will again back up Houghton at the point. While Teeter didn't see as much action last year, his main contribution should again be his defense.
Teeter will likely serve in a role much like he did last year in which he'll come into games at crucial times to try to create havoc on defense. "He's a little guy that just flies around," Barnes said.
Freshman Matt Rutledge is being groomed to take over for Houghton at the point. Barnes said Rutledge is a strong all-around player who should be able to contribute, adding he has made a smoother transition than expected to varsity.
"We have a lot of guys who can play different positions," Barnes said. He said he has about seven players who are interchangeable, who can play at guard or forward.
But again the Senators will lack size. "We really don't have size to speak of," Barnes said.
That will be a challenge since there's a great deal of size in the Sierra League this year. "The league is big this year on our side," Barnes said.
Carson's tallest players are Jacquet, Jeffers and Joe Leatham, who are all 6-2. But Barnes said his players have the ability to cause matchup problems because they can post up and shoot the ball well.
Another strength should be the team's ability to penetrate, Barnes said. "I think we're good enough off the dribble that we're going to get to the basket," Barnes said.
Other players expected to contribute are 6-0 senior Brian Wilson, a perimeter player, Zach Weismann, Brooks Greenlee and 6-1 sophomore Rob Valerius.
Reno looks to be the team to beat in the Northern 4A. "Reno has all the pieces," Barnes said. "They have size, quickness, shooting. Reno on our side is the cream of the crop."
Hug and Douglas also look to be strong again in the Sierra League. Both teams return a strong nucleus and the Tigers have 6-9 Keith Olson. Barnes said Damonte Ranch could be the surprise team of the Sierra League.
Wooster and South Tahoe should also compete for one of the four qualifying spots into the zone playoffs. "I think it's kind of wide open," Barnes said. "I think you have Reno and the rest of us."
But while it would take an outstanding effort, Barnes said Reno isn't unbeatable. "It's not to say Reno can't be beat," he said.
Barnes said not much should change in the High Desert League, either, with Galena and Northern Nevada's top player, 6-7 Luke Babbitt, among the teams to beat.