ON THE COVER: Player to watch - Breylin SmithREAD ONLINE
Conway St. Joseph BulldogsPublished October 27, 2013 at 5:00 a.m.
Conference: 2A-4 East
Coach: Brent Bruich, ninth year as head coach, 18th at school
Assistant coach: Chris Kordsmeier
2012-13 record: 31-3, won 2A-4 East Conference regular-season and tournament championships and the Class 2A West Regional (over Conway Christian, 79-55) before falling to Bearden in the opening round of the Class 2A State Tournament, 75-63.
Returning starters: Landon Enderlin, 5-9 senior point guard. Enderlin led the team in assists last season, and Bruich expects him to be a good overall leader.
Best inside players: Drake Cooper, a 6-3 senior, is a good rebounder and will be a good leader this season, the coach said. He and Dylan Schrekenhofer, a 6-2 junior, averaged about 6 points per game last year. Britt Stroth, a 5-11 junior, and Cole Schaefers, a 6-0 senior, are expected to get more playing time this season.
Best outside players: Enderlin, Nash Nichols, 5-11 senior, 5 ppg; Taylor Schrekenhofer, 5-8 senior, 5 ppg; and William Fields, 5-6 junior shooting/point guard, 5 ppg. Others expected to contribute outside are Jensen Thielke, 5-10 junior; Jacob Lampe, 5-6 junior; Owen Echols, 5-6 sophomore; and Landon Bruich, 5-7 sophomore.
How will you match/exceed/fall short of your success from last year?: Despite winning 31 games, the Bulldogs were disappointed they didn’t make a deeper run in the state tournament. During the season, they beat Pottsville, which went on to win the Class 4A state title, and lost only to Class 5A Greenbrier, Class 3A state champion Harding Academy and Bearden. “We won our last 18 games by 20-plus points,” Bruich said. “We are hungry to get back to the state tournament. We would love to make a better showing. The coach is very hungry to do that; I would hope my players are.”
Team strengths: The Bulldogs return just one starter, but five more players got extensive playing time last season, so six of the top 10 players from 2012-13 are back. They have good team chemistry, Bruich said, and some quickness.
Team weaknesses: “We’re not very big,” the coach said. “We don’t have a lot of size or bulk. We’re going to have to do a better job rebounding. That will be an emphasis early. Another emphasis will be developing more depth. Some of these guys are going to have to change their roles, maybe go from being a complementary player to more of a scorer. We’ll be redefining everybody’s roles.”
Games to watch: Bruich said the St. Joseph Classic in early December would be loaded again, with Vilonia, Mayflower, Guy Perkins, Marshall, Perryville, Hazen and Lonoke in the field. The Bulldogs will also play England, Greenbrier, Rose Bud, West Side Greers Ferry, County Line and Dermott in nonconference play. “I feel confident the nonconference schedule will test us and get us ready for conference,” he said.
Toughest opponent: Bruich said the 2A-4East Conference would be much improved. “A lot of teams were young last year,” he said. “Some will be young and even better.”
College prospects: None at this time.
In a nutshell: “I think they’ll be fun to watch,” Bruich said of his Bulldogs. “They’re definitely fun to coach.”