Boys basketball team will feature new coach, new starting line-up
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Grayling High School’s varsity boys basketball program has a new coach this year, and the roster will have a very different look after losing eight players to graduation in 2018.
This year’s team has several seniors, but the group doesn’t have a lot of varsity experience overall.
“A lot of seniors, but not a lot of court time,” said Rich Reilly, the new coach of the program. “The court experience is low but right now I’m getting great leadership from Ryan (Anderson) and Nick (Hunter).”
Coach Reilly said Anderson and Hunter will be the team’s captains this year.
“They made it to everything this summer. I think they deserve the right to be captains,” Coach Reilly said.
Before the start of official practices on Monday, November 5, many of the Viking players – with Reilly as the coach – participated in summer basketball as a way to get ready for the current season. Coach Reilly said the work during the summer is paying off now. Summer basketball included games in Grayling and camps at Northwood University and Saginaw Valley University they were able to attend because of donations from the Grayling Youth Booster Club.
“I was so proud of how they believed in something and played really hard and got some wins,” Coach Reilly said. “Getting these kids to believe they can be good is what I’m really focused on.”
Reilly coached boys basketball at Hale for 11 years before coming to Grayling. Reilly, currently the assistant principal at the Grayling Elementary School, said he’s enjoying the return to coaching after a six-year hiatus.
“Best part of my day,” Coach Reilly said. “Best part of my day is being out on the court with the kids.”
Coach Reilly said summer basketball gave the players an opportunity to get accustomed to his coaching style and expectations and learn a new defensive system.
“They were able to see what I’m about, what I believe in, and what I don’t give in to. I believe that defensively they’re buying in to what I’m selling,” Coach Reilly said.
Coach Reilly said the first week of practice went well.
“It’s gone great. They’re starting to buy in to the changes we’ve got going. Currently most of that’s been centered on defense,” Coach Reilly said.
It’s been a long time since the program had a new coach. Rich Moffit, the previous coach, retired after the 2017-2018 season after 24 years of leading the varsity team.
“I have to give (Moffit) a lot of credit. He laid a great foundation for these kids. Now we just have to make it happen,” Coach Reilly said.
What’s the team’s biggest strength right now?
“The foundation that’s been laid and their desire to get better,” Coach Reilly said.
“Speed,” Hunter said.
“Yeah, probably our speed,” Anderson said.
Weaknesses? Things they need to work on?
“We’re not going to be very tall. We’re going to have to get much stronger,” Coach Reilly said.
Coach Reilly said he believes the squad will defy expectations this year.
“I think this team will surprise a lot of people,” he said. “I think this is a good mix of kids. One of the biggest difficulties we’re going to have is believing in ourselves.”
Hunter described the squad’s early practice sessions as “fast.”
“The drills are fast; it’s game-like drills,” Hunter said.
They’re working on defense and trying to improve on being more physical.
“Being more physical in practice,” Anderson said. “We’re going to have to be more physical to compete with the bigger teams. Don’t cheat the drills; be disciplined.”
“Be disciplined, and scrappiness,” Hunter said.
“Because we’re small we have to be tough,” Coach Reilly said. “We have to play 94 feet at 100 percent defensively. Offensively we have to play with discipline.”
The varsity boys basketball squad will open its 2018-2019 season with a game at Standish Sterling Central on Wednesday, November 28. The varsity team will host Traverse City Christian on Tuesday, December 4.
“We’re going to get a good dose of basketball right away at Standish. They’ve got everyone back from last year. It’ll be a good contest for us,” Coach Reilly said.
“I’m very hopeful for this team. They work hard. They’re great kids. I hope great things come to them,” Coach Reilly said. “I’m excited to get it going.”