MARSHALL - One year removed from a third-place finish in the Class AAA State Basketball Tournament, the Marshall boys basketball team returns with a new look, having graduated seven seniors.
But second year head coach Travis Carroll believes the foundation has been built.
"We had a very fun year last year. I think last year''s group of kids set the tone for what we''re looking for going forward in the future," Carroll said. "We graduated a lot of kids off that team, but we still have a lot of guys that were part of that program last year that are pretty excited coming into this year."
The Tigers return five seniors with experience who will help lead the team.
"Riley Sharbono, he is coming back this year. He played a lot of minutes for us last year. CD Douglas and Bryce Johnson are also a couple guys coming back," said Carroll. "We have two more seniors, Zack Drum and Adam Kovash, that are back this year."
With limited varsity experience returning, it will be important for Marshall to gel early.
"Going into this year, it''s a matter of us playing together," Carroll said. "We have a lot of guys who are new to each other and are playing together, learning who each other are on the floor."
Offensively the Tigers are looking to get in close to the hoop through a few directions. Defensively, rebounding will be key.
"Our goal on offense is to take care of the ball, try to attack the rim, whether that''s driving to the basket or getting the ball to the posts inside," said Carroll. "Defensively, rebounding is something that is going to be very important for us. Early on this year we''ve seen that boxing out and rebounding is something we need to improve on."
Carroll sees potential with this squad, especially if the communication comes together.
"If we''re taking care of the ball, rebounding on the defensive end and communicating, we''re pretty excited about the group we have this year," Carroll said. "We''re learning to do those things a little more consistently. Consistency is going to be pretty important for us. We like what we have in the gym, we just need to become more consistent."
The Tigers will open the season on the road at Orono, where they will see a face that is well-known with Marshall basketball.
"Coach Wohler, he coached in Marshall for many years. A lot of these kids going now were probably in his youth program growing up," said Carroll. "He did a tremendous job getting the Marshall program going strong.
"We have a lot of respect for coach Wohler going into that game. They pretty much have their whole team coming back this year."
It doesn''t get any easier for the Tigers as they head to Austin the following Saturday before jumping into the Southwest Conference season.
" It will be two difficult challenges, but with this group of kids it will be good to find out what we need to get better at and find some things we''re doing well we can continue to build on," Carroll said. "We are looking forward to this year, but we definitely have a lot of things we need to improve on going forward once we get going."
Nov. 23: at Orono
Nov. 30: vs. Austin at Roseville
Dec. 3: at Windom Area
Dec. 10: at Redwood Valley
Dec. 14: Worthington
Dec. 17: Jackson County Central
Dec. 21:?at Mankato West
HOLIDAY HOOPS TOURNAMENT
Dec. 26: Tracy-Milroy-Balaton at SMSU
Dec. 27: Montevideo at MHS
Dec. 28: Mankato East at MHS
Jan. 3: Windom Area
Jan. 7:?at Luverne
Jan. 10:?at Pipestone
Jan. 11: at Sioux Falls Lincoln
Jan. 14: Willmar
Jan. 18: at Mankato East
Jan. 21:?at Jackson County Central
Jan. 28:?Redwood Valley
Jan. 30: Luverne
Feb. 1:?Maple River
Feb. 3: Pipestone
Feb: 7: at Sioux Falls Roosevelt
Feb. 8:?Sioux Falls Washington
Feb. 11: at Fairmont
Feb. 14: at Worthington
Feb. 18: New Ulm