Low numbers on the court for the Bulldog boys

Low turnout and high turnover don't exactly mix, and the Culver High School boys basketball team may have some tough days ahead because of it.

Head coach Brennan Whitaker said he hasn't had enough guys at practice on a consistent basis to effectively install any kind of offensive or defensive strategy, and the first game of the season is Friday.

"The dedication and commitment just hasn't been there so far," Whitaker said. "This is something I really haven't had to deal with before."

On a good day, like Monday for instance, Whitaker had 12 players at practice. While only 17 are on the roster throughout the whole program, having players missing from practice makes it tough to really do much of anything.

by: PIONEER FILE PHOTO - Culver post Jon Slaght will be the focal point in the paint for the Culver Bulldogs this season."Honestly, we've been doing stuff we shouldn't have to be doing at this point," Whitaker said. "But hopefully we are able to improve every day. That's going to be the goal this year."

Even with the lack of preparation the team has been able to do, the Bulldogs are still set to take on Weston-McEwen in the first game of a tournament Friday in Moro.

Returning from last year's varsity team, which went 10-15 overall and 5-9 in the Tri-River Conference, are just two full-time varsity players.

Sophomore Tom McDonald, who started at point guard his freshman year, will hang on to that spot and try to get the ball into senior big-man Jon Slaght. Slaght is the other returning player with significant varsity experience.

After those two, Whitaker said the rest of the team will be full of players that mostly played at the junior varsity level last year.

Junior Adam Knepp and sophomore Tristan Bogart, two players that split time between JV and varsity last year, will log plenty of varsity minutes this year, as will sophomore Tyler Edwards.

"Those five players look like they will be the main guys that make an impact for us," Whitaker said. "This is going to be a project, though."

The schedule early in the season doesn't really set up nicely for the Bulldogs, either. Six of the team's eight nonconference games are on the road, with the only home games coming during the Culver Tournament on Dec. 20-21.

Even with the rough early going to the season, Whitaker is confident that this team will get better as the season goes on.

"How we fare in three months is the ultimate goal here," Whitaker said. "We're kind of scrambling right now, but we're looking for improvement each day and making sure the kids compete."

Inexperience one year, which may mean a team will take its fair share of lumps on the court, can be turned into something good down the road. That is the thought Whitaker will take with him throughout this season. The team he has is very young, with Slaght being the only senior, so the development of the young players will have to start now.

"The future is bright for the program," Whitaker said. "We've got a good group of younger kids. We just need them to buy in to what the coaches are teaching, and focus on getting better all the time."

After the Bulldogs play Weston-McEwen on Friday to open the Sherman County tournament, they will play either the host Huskies or Southwest Christian, a Class 1A team from Beaverton.

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