December 18, 2013 - Despite starting the season off with a loss against Seaholm High School 39-51 on Dec. 11 and a tough loss against Lake Orion 56-65 on Dec. 13, new Boys Varsity Basketball Head Coach Stephan Henning expects great things from this year's team.
Front row, left to right: Alec Drohan, Delxino Alexander, Jeremy Mullen, Connor Elzerman. Second row: Coach Chris Keenist, coach Julian Tyler, Paul Drohan, Jordan Anderson, Alex Hesse, Bryce Clark, Connor bandel, coach Eric Johnson, Head Coach Stephan Henning. Third row: Jamal, Thomas, Dylan Grubb, Tyler Scott, hunter Grubb, Griffin Ray, and manager Julius Halliburton. Photo by Matt Johnson (click for larger version)
"Our emphasis this year will be on the defensive side. We will hopefully be a team that plays with immense energy and heart," Henning said. "Everyone will be held accountable and we expect their best effort on the floor."
Despite the loss, Lake Orion was one of the games he was looking forward to this season.
"What a great game and atmosphere this was as two heated rivals, Lake Orion and Oxford, played to a packed crowd in Oxford," he said. "We are also looking forward to our Holiday Tournament at Rochester High on Thursday, Dec. 26 and Saturday, Dec. 28
Returning this year is Connor Elzerman who Henning described as "a great shooter for mid-range or three-point" shots.
"Connor is also our best ball handler and (has) a great understanding of the game. He is one of our captains and his work ethic and preparation brings great focus to our team," added Henning. "He is starting to get the interest of small colleges like Rochester College and Marygrove."
Along with Elzerman is Alex Hesse, who "is very skilled on the low block."
"He can finish with both hands around the basket. Alex is a senior and also one of our captains," Henning said. "He is poised for a great senior year and determined to bring back a winning culture to Oxford basketball. He will be looked upon this year to be a great defender and rebounder along with scoring in the low block."
Six new players joined varsity this year.
"Jeremy Mullen Jr. and Connor Bandelsoph will be our bigs off the bench," Henning said. "Hunter Grubb, Dylan Grubb, and Alec Drohan are junior guards and will be looked to bring great energy. Jamal Thomas is a freshman and will be looked to help out immediately at the point guard position."
Having four players over 6-foot, 3-inches, Henning said the strength of the team definitely comes in size.
"Another strength will be our team pride (and) keeping each other accountable," he noted. "I believe my players have bought into the fact that in order to win and sustain wins, we must do that together with positivity."
As a transition year for Henning who replaced former Head Coach Paul Marfia, his goal is to compete for a league title, even though the league looks tough," in the OAA Blue, which consists of Hazel Park, Royal Oak, Farmington, Harrison, Ferndale, and Berkley and Stoney Creek.
"The top team, Stoney Creek, has a lot of players back. We hope to challenge them for a league title this year," he said. "I have been working with players since the summer getting them to buy into my system of playing with immense energy and also playing selflessly and not selfishly.'
"We have keys pieces on this team that will give a lot of teams within our league trouble," Henning continued. "We want to contend for a league title this year, but most importantly, we want to get better every time we step onto the court, whether that's a game, practice or shoot around."
The Wildcats will battle Berkley on the hardwood at home on Dec. 19 with tip-off at 7 p.m.
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.