Basketball preview

by Greg Ceilley

PLYMOUTH – Jason Duff is very upbeat as he embarks on his first season as the Plymouth head boys basketball coach.

“I’m really excited for a lot of reasons. I think our guys are really coachable and are good young men. We have a great coaching staff and they make it fun,” said Duff.

Duff took over the head job from Scott Richards who retired after last season. Duff, the Panthers’ junior varsity coach the previous five seasons, inherits a team that was 17-7 overall and a Division 2 regional finalist last season. The Panthers tied for second in the Eastern Wisconsin Conference with a 10-4 mark.

“Ever since I was 19 I wanted to be a head coach. High school basketball is really important to me. We’re really looking forward to the season,” Duff said.

“We’re nicked up now which is a concern. A key will be to stay healthy.”

Duff is impressed with his players’ competitive spirit.

“We’re very optimistic. I like the character of our guys. They are willing to work hard and sacrifice,” he said.

“These kids know what it takes to win.”

Several of the players excel in other sports and Duff thinks that carries over to basketball.

The Panthers have seven returning letter winners, led by senior guard Mitch Unger who earned All-EWC second-team honors last season. Unger is the lone starter back.

Unger was the Panthers’ second-leading scorer last season with an 11.7 points-per-game average. He was second on the team in assists with 47 (2.0 average) and steals, 29 (1.2 average).

Unger ranked fifth in the EWC in scoring at 14.0 per game and was fourth in three-point goals with 26.

“Mitch has the ability to be a difference maker [on offense and defense]. He has to be a great defensive player and make his teammates better on offense,” Duff said.

“I like his defense, offense and ball handling.”

The other returning letter winners are senior guards Craig Grosshuesch, Brent Krueger, Myles Dellger, senior center Forrest Payne and senior forwards Brad Hanson and Alex Grahn. Dellger hit a team-high 45.5 percent from three-point range and 81.3 percent at the foul line last season.

“Our captains are Mitch, Myles and Forrest. We have a deep senior class. All of the seniors are capable of leading the team with their play and leadership,” the coach said.

“Brent can do a little of everything. I like his ability to take the ball to the basket and be opportunistic on defense.

“I hope Myles can make shots from the perimeter but not force them. Forest is doing a good job of getting position in the post.

“Every person on the team has a key role which is always crucial,” Duff said.

Duff is counting on a good defense which has been the Panthers’ strong suit for the past several years.

“We hope on the defensive end, we’ll be a good team. It’s been a staple of our program. We take pride in this and want to continue that,” he said.

“We can handle the ball pretty well. We’re a gritty bunch. We’re not afraid to bang in there.”

Duff pointed out the team’s main weakness going into the season.

“We haven’t proved that we can be a consistently good shooting team. We have the ability to shoot well,” he said. “We can score points.

“We want to be a smart team. We take pride in making good decisions with the basketball.

“We want to run but not turn it over. If the opportunity is there, we’ll run. But we have to execute in the half court,” the coach said.

Duff emphasized that his team execute and be efficient on offense and defense. His other top goals are to play hard and get better each day.

Duff expects the EWC to be improved this season.

“The conference is deep and talented. Everyone in the conference should be better than last year,” he said.

“We feel we have a good chance [to compete well in the EWC]. Waupun is the [title] favorite. Their junior varsity was undefeated last year and they are well-coached.”

Duff thinks Kiel, New Holstein, Falls and Plymouth will be the other top contenders for first. He said Two Rivers has the potential to be very good. And Kewaskum and Campbellsport should be better.

Waupun is the two-time defending EWC champion. The Warriors shared the crown with PHS two years ago. Kiel, a Division 2 state qualifier, tied for second in the league last season.
Nov. 26 – @ Sheb. South Tourney (JV-V)

Nov. 27 – @ Sheb. South Tourney (JV-V)
Nov. 30 – @ Randolph
Dec. 2 – Kiel, here
Dec. 7 – @ Menomonee Falls
Dec. 10 – @ Kewaskum
Dec. 11 – at Sheb. Falls (vars. reserves)
Dec. 16 – @ Sheboygan Falls
Dec. 18 – GB Preble (JV-V), here
Dec. 18 – Manitowoc (Frosh), here
Dec. 21 – Campbellsport, here
Dec. 30 – Green Bay Southwest, here
Jan. 7 – Two Rivers, here
Jan. 13 – New Holstein, here
Jan. 18 – @ West Bend East
Jan. 21 – @ Waupun
Jan. 25 – West Bend West, here
Jan. 27 – @ Kiel
Feb. 1 – @ Campbellsport
Feb. 4 – Kewaskum, here
Feb. 10 – Sheboygan Falls, here
Feb. 15 – @ Two Rivers
Feb. 18 – @ New Holstein
Feb. 25 – Waupun, here
Name Gr. Ht. Pos.
Craig Grosshuesch 12 5-11 G
Mitch Unger 12 6-0 G
Brent Krueger 12 6-0 G
Myles Dellger 12 6-1 G
Forrest Payne 12 6-7 C
Brad Hanson 12 6-1 F
Alex Grahn 12 6-2 F
Parker Kastelic 11 5-8 G
Devin Gumm 11 5-10 G
Brett Erdmann 11 5-11 G
Matt Augustine 11 6-2 G
Brady Peterson 11 6-3 C
Cory Unger 10 5-10 G

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