After struggling to a 7-18 record in 2015-16, Dayton boys basketball coach Jason Santos believes his team has improved.
Santos returns seven players from last year’s team — Chase Peterson (2.8 points, 1.1 rebounds), Trevor Burrows (5.1, 3.8), J.J. Ply (9.7, 5.2), Blake Fletcher (1.3, 2.0), Carson Crosby (0.4, 0.6), Brendon Thomas (1.4, 3.1) and Weston Hill (1.6, 1.7),
Junior guard Adam Millett, forward Jason Anthis, guard-forward Jacob Massett, center Gabe Dums and center-forward Brenden Thomas round out this year’s team, which begins its season today at 4:30 against Hug at the Truckee High Invitational,
“We should be more competitive,” said Santos, “I’m not sure how many games we’ll win, but we will play hard. We are not very deep.”
“The league is going to be just as tough as it was last year. Elko should lead the conference and then Fernley. They should be the top two teams. South Tahoe should be good. They got a kid (6-5 McCallan Castles) that moved into the area that is an all-state football player; a game-changer. I talked to some coaches who have seen him play. He’s athletic and big.”
Seven returning players is a lot, but that group averaged only 22.3 points a game last year, hence a reason for concern for Santos.
Based on last year’s numbers, Ply and Burrows are the only reliable scorers returning.
“We’re going to have to try and put the ball in the hands of J.J. and Trevor,” Santos said. “J.J. is super athletic, and Burrows was solid for us last year. He’s gotten stronger. Chase is small (5-7), but he can handle the ball.”
Peterson will be called on to distribute the ball and be a coach on the floor. Any points he gives the team will be an added bonus.
“Weston (Hill) has to help with our scoring and defense,” Santos said. “Millett can play some defense. Dums is tall and athletic. He will help us rebounding and defense; bother shots in the key. Right now, his offensive skills are average. Blake is a good rebounder and brings toughness.”
Besides inexperience, Santos said the Dust Devils lack depth. That will force him to do things differently at both ends of the floor.
“I can’t tell you what our identity will be,” Santos said. “We will use a token 2-2-1 (press) and trap when we can.
“If we were deeper, I’d like to get up and down the floor. We have to be more in control of the tempo. We’ll push when we can.”