Year after year, not much changes with the Carson High boys basketball team. Once again the Senators will be a team that doesn't have a lot of size living most of the time on the perimeter and trying to push the tempo as much as possible.
And with an experienced and deep group of players this year, the Senators are hoping to take that style of play to as high of a level as possible. Carson returns 10 players from last year's team and that depth will be key as the Senators will try to force opponents into their frenetic style of play.
With no player taller than 6-3, Carson will again look to force more of a full-court contest and to stay away from the halfcourt game as much as possible. Rob Valerius, Matt Rutledge, Zach Rispin, Markus Adams, Will Holbert, Steven Fowzer, Calvin Case, Caleb Carter, Paul Cagle and David Eller all return from last year's squad.
They will be joined by three newcomers - sophomore Uriel Duran, junior Wade Smith and Senator coach Bruce Barnes' son, freshman Brian Barnes.
Carson returns its starting point guard from last year in Matt Rutledge and also returns three of its top scorers from last year in Valerius, Holbert and Paul Cagle. Holbert is still recovering from an injury suffered in football. Coach Barnes said the earliest that Holbert will be able to come back will be the Carson Lions Tournament hosted by the Senators at Morse Burley Gym December 20-22.
Positions don't really matter that much to the Senators as all of the players are pretty much interchangeable. "We're pretty much guard-forward," Barnes said. "We really don't have a true center."
Carson should again count heavily on Holbert, Valerius and Cagle. Valerius and Cagle should also create matcup problems for opponents.
"I'm looking for him to have a pretty big year," said coach Barnes about Valerius. "He ended strong last year."
Cagle, who may be the only 5-10 power forward around, can cause teams fits with his ability to score inside. "He can score inside and outside," coach Barnes said.
While coach Barnes said his son could be among those to be counted on from the outside, the coach said he has plenty of perimeter weapons.
"I think we're better on the perimeter this year," coach Barnes said. "We can shoot the ball. We've got quite a few guys who can shoot."
Among those who should lead Carson from the outside is Carter. "He can really shoot it," Barnes said.
"We'll try to isolate certain matchups. We have a couple of guys that can create matcup problems.
"But for the most part we are a perimeter outside team to say the least. We just want to spread the court as much as we can and see what happens."
Coach Barnes, though, said the success of the team wil depend on how much players like Valerius, Eller and Cagle can score inside.
The team's ability to use its depth to continue to play an up tempo style will also be a key to success, coach Barnes said. "I'm hoping to be pretty deep this year," said coach Barnes, commenting on the rotation he would like to use.
Coach Barnes said he likes what he sees so far. "The kids are working hard," he said.
The Northern 4A looks as tough as ever Coach Barnes said. In the High Desert League is Nevada-bound Luke Babbitt and defending NIAA 4A State champion Galena, but Reed and Manogue should also be strong, coach Barnes said.
Reno High with Duke-bound Olek Czyz could be the class of the North and Douglas, which lost to Galena by one point in the Northern 4A finals last year, should be strong again, coach Barnes said.
"This is the best Reno team I've seen," coach Barnes said. "I think they've got pretty much a little of everything and a lot of some."
Coach Barnes said a Northern 4A team could bring the North what was once a unthinkable third straight state title.
"Whoever wins the zone up here has a great chance of winning it all," Coach Barnes said.
Carson opens the season on December 6 against Merced, Calif., at the Douglas Tournament.