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Eastbrook boys basketball jumps into season quickly

PANTHERS: Eastbrook’s first-year basketball coach Greg Allison talks to the Panthers during practice on Tuesday. Eastbrook will open its 2018-19 season on Saturday hosting Eastern at 7:30 p.m.

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

There’s a new ‘Coach A’ roaming the halls at Eastbrook High School, and the success of football coach Jeff Adamson - the original Coach A - means new boys’ basketball coach Greg Allison is getting a late start putting his first team together.

Even so, the process picked up a lot of pace starting Monday when those football players, just two days removed competing for a Class 2A state championship, found themselves on the basketball court and starting to prepare for opening night.

In all, six football players are on Eastbrook’s varsity roster and trying to get their five-practice minimum in before opening night game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at home against Eastern.

At Tuesday’s media day, some of those players were still feeling the effects of their physical clash with Western Boone at Lucas Oil Stadium. Those pains may prevent Justin Singer, Alex Baker and Luke Boren from taking the court for the first game.

Still, Allison and his coaching staff are expediting the process of getting the Panthers ready.

“They’re getting an entire crash course on what we’re trying to do. It’s difficult,” Allison said. “We’re pretty banged up on top of getting a late start. It’s challenging. It was exciting having this many guys in the gym (on Monday).”

Allison said he has 30 players in the program - freshmen through seniors - for his inaugural season and had some opportunity to work with some of the football players during the summer. There were also some he’d never seen before until Monday.

“The roster is extremely fluid right now,” Allison said. “Just because they’re on the JV right now doesn’t mean that’s where they’ll be the entire year. With some of them being brand new and not seeing them much, this is a process that they could move up and down very quickly. We have some experienced and some kids who are quick learners, I hope.”

Seniors Singer and Garrett Holder each played in 19 games last year when Eastbrook finished 11-12. Senior Brandon Huber (6.6 points per game) played in 14 games, while juniors Dylan Bragg (2.4 ppg) and Baker (2.3 ppg, 2.6 rebounds) played in 21 games.

Junior Bryce Schamber has been a regular starter for the past two season and returns with a 6.5-point, 4.4-rebound average from his sophomore season.

“Schamber has had a really good spring and summer,” Allison said. “He’s not a real vocal kid but works hard in practice and had a really good preseason. When he gets two hands on a rebound there’s not very many kids that are going to take it away from him. I’ve got him going after it. He’s a kid that could have a really good junior season.”

Allison said Holder was another player he’s seen good things from during the fall and preseason. Holder was part of Eastbrook’s two-time sectional champion boys’ soccer team, but would often participate in open gym after he finished soccer practice.

“Holder has had a very good summer. He’s a kid that’s an extremely hard worker,” Allison said. “He’s seeing the benefit of his hard work. He’s got a chance to be a pretty good player for us this year. I think he’s a kid that really loves basketball and he wants to be good so he works hard at it.”

Still, Allison’s philosophy and his coaching style is part of the process that Eastbrook basketball players are really just starting to learn.

Allison said he is a defensive-minded coach who likes to play half-court man-to-man. He also thinks it would be wise, particularly with the 6-foot-5 frames and athleticism of Baker and Schamber to not mix in some zone defenses from time-to-time.

“I would also love to put in a press to use some of our athletes,” Allison said. “Offensively, I hope to be very balanced.

“Obviously, we don’t have a Ryan Mansbarger (24.5 points a game) anymore so we are going to have to become more balanced in terms of scoring,” he added. “There are three or four guys who can score double digits on any given night, which is to our advantage and makes us hard to guard.”

For now Allison is teaching the very basics of his offensive and defensive schemes to get Eastbrook ready for a blitz of games to start the season. After Saturday’s opener with Eastern, the Panthers host Southern Wells on Tuesday, take a trip to 2A No. 11 Frankton on Dec. 7 and host Norwell on Dec. 8. 

“We hope they learn fast,” Allison said. “Coaching staff-wise, we’ve stripped it down to kind of bare bones especially here (to start). “We play four games in a week so we’re kind of on the NBA schedule, not a lot of practice time and play four games in a week.

“I want to be able to do the basics and execute them well instead of having a whole bunch of things in and maybe not executing them well,” he added. “It’s the best way to try to do it. They’re getting two hours a night, the crash course version.”

Along with the quick implementation of offense and defensive basics comes simple expectations for the early part of his first season at Eastbrook. 

“It’s cliche, but it’s cliche because it’s true,” Allison said. “Are we better when we left the practice floor than when we first go in? Are we better when the game is over with than when we started? That’s what we’re trying to look at.

“I would like to spend close to half of our (practice) time on skill development - passing, shooting, catching the basketball without traveling,” he added. “I’m not necessarily going to put a number (on wins), but are we better. The two hours, was it a useful two hours of our time and did we get better? That’s important to me.”