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Hoopsters hope for rebound

New head coach looks to improve on last season

Boys practice under guidance from the new head coach, Mike Shafkalis. Photo by Megan Collier
November 25, 2009 - Mike Shafkalis, new boys' basketball coach, said he's hopeful about this season.

"We had four wins last year. I'm an optimist, I think we can get to 10 wins," he said, adding if the team survives their first five games, they might get to 12 wins.

With a change in attitude, some drilling and better defense, Shafkalis predicts a good season.

"We just have to harness and teach a little bit," he said, noting, "It looks like basketball skills have dwindled a little bit over the years. I really believe if we work them hard enough, we can have a successful season. "

This year's lineup includes 11 returning varsity players, three from junior varsity and two others. Fans should watch for Alex Mayo and Ian Monk as team leaders, said Shafkalis.

To improve on last year's meager number of wins, Shafkalis wants to address Lake Orion's attitude toward boys' basketball, first and foremost.

"It's definitely a baseball and football crowd," he said.

Last season, football players weren't allowed to play basketball, according to Shafkalis, though he notes football players' "toughness" is important to have on the court, too.

"Last year, we were banged around quite a bit," he said. "This year we finally implemented some strengthening and conditioning programs."

Now football players are welcome to join basketball, too, said Shafkalis.

The coach also plans to work on Dragons' defensive play.

"I believe you can create turnovers and scoring opportunities through defense," he said.

Though Shafkalis is new to varsity this year, he's not new to Lake Orion or to basketball. The 50-year-old LO resident coached junior varsity Dragon basketball last year and spent six years coaching in Madison Heights, and one in Birmingham.

Shafkalis said he threw in his hat, along with six or seven others, for the varsity position.

At 50, the coach said he thought he'd seen everything, but was awed by Dragons' supportive fan base.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity to be in Lake Orion," he said

Dragons' first game of the season will be a home game, Dec. 10, against Lahser.

Reporter, Lake Orion Review
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