PERU — After having an experienced St. Bede Bruins team last year, veteran coach Mike Kilmartin has a youth movement for the 2013-14 season with only one senior on his roster.
Senior post Ethan Duttlinger (6-5) has assumed some of the leadership responsibilities for his young team which will look to replace the Bruins entire starting five of Joe Pyszka, Bradley Groleau, Bobby Morrow, Damin Smith, Sam Lucas and sixth man Grant Bosnich.
Duttlinger had a severely sprained ankle the first summer practice day and didn’t play one game or practice the entire summer but has dedicated himself to becoming stronger. Kilmartin hopes he will be consistent for games after having a breakout quarter in the Marseilles Tournament.
Surrounding the lone senior for Kilmartin’s third year at the head of the Academy will be a talented group of juniors and two sophomores. Included in the mix are junior co-captain Jack Brady, Justin Shaw, Sam Halm, Joey Dudek, Keaton Smith, Eric Smudzinski, Gabe Braboy, Joe Kim and sophomores Jarret Olson and Andrew Pyszka.
“Brady is very clever and gifted offensively and loves to compete in whatever sport he plays,” said Kilmartin of the team’s other captain.
Just as they helped the football team reach the playoffs, Shaw will be counted on as a triple threat who can defend and is a great passer while Halm’s versatility of defending all five offensive positions will help the Bruins. Dudek, a golfer in the fall, will play a role for Kilmartin’s team coming off the bench to give the guards a break and will be looked to become a lock down defender using his quickness and tenacity to frustrate the opposing guards.
Kilmartin (422-263 coaching record) is looking for big things from his two sophomore varsity call-ups after both have been around the game most of their life including point guard Olson and post Pyszka. Olson, who saw limited playing time as a freshman last season, is the son of IBCA Hall-of-Fame coach and SBA assistant coach Scott Olson who will be another coach on the floor.
According to Kilmartin, Olson is a relentless and talented point guard that is multi-talented and the sky is the limit.
Pyszka, the younger brother of last year’s center Joe, played with the sophomores last year and Kilmartin believes with hard work on skills, stamina and quickness has the potential to become the best big man in the area.
With only 11 varsity players, SBA will depend on their bench in practice and games and is expecting reserves Smudzinski, Braboy, Kim and Smith to assist in their development.
“A basketball team is like an iceberg and the biggest part of the iceberg is below the surface. That on a basketball team is the bench which can be of great help in practice and games,” said Kilmartin of his reserves which could have some assistance from some underclassmen added to then roster in the near future.
One of the toughest schedules Kilmartin has seen in his coaching career awaits the young, inexperienced Bruins but the head coach knows his team will go through some growing pains along the way with some numerous and long road trips as they are now members of the Three Rivers Conference.
In addition, to the new conference, the Bruins have two new tournaments they will be participating in. They go to the Oregon Tournament to start the season and will travel to the Plano Christmas Classic after previously being in the Marseilles Tournament.
Kilmartin’s squad’s early season strengths are they will compete and will not back down and have a high basketball IQ along with a junior class who had success last year as sophomores and is above average fundamentally.
The Bruins, who have won 20-plus games for three straight seasons, will attempt to continue that string along with winning a regional, and winning the three tournaments they are entered in along with put a team on the floor that will compete.
St. Bede will face Hinckley-Big Rock (Wednesday) and Byron (Friday) in pool play at the Oregon Tournament to open the season.