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Basketball Preview: New coach looks for compete, awareness from Eden

MAN-IN-THE-MIDDLE RETURNS FOR EDEN — Eden junior Hayden Herc (middle) returns for an Eden team that has gone back to the basics in trying to show improvement. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
Two of the most used words during Eden practices so far in the preseason have been competitiveness and awareness.

First-year head coach Scott Gill may not inherit a varsity team with a recent tradition of winning, but it’s a squad he sees potential in, so first and foremost, he’s making sure he relays to his team the importance of those basic principals.

“It’s all on attitude and hardwork,” said Gill, who’s been coaching in the program that past several seasons, starting as the modified coach. “I told them to have awareness, be competitive and be open to change. It’s not easy to break old habits, but if you have awareness, that’s key.”

As he breaks down past mistakes and gets back to basics, Gill is also trying to instill discipline in his players, to help them do what is coached and be in the right spots. He couldn’t be happier with the response, so far, from what he calls a group with “good character kids.”

“It’s definitely a change for these kids to have more accountability for what we do as a team,” noted Gill, who takes over a squad that finished 3-16 last season and won an ECIC Division IV game for the first time in two seasons.

He’ll lean heavily on his senior guard Brad Palmerton to help lead the team and to provide continued production. The senior guard comes off a season in which he was ranked 32nd in Western New York and sixth in ECIC Division IV with a 16.5 scoring average. “He can do it all — he’s very smart and talented and can shoot and handle the ball,” Gill noted.

That said, Gill also emphasized taking some of the heat off of Palmerton. He stressed getting contributions from other key players.

He’ll look to junior guard Anthony Sinnot to create some offense for himself and others, as the junior takes on some of the ball handling responsibilities. Fellow juniors Hayden Herc, a hulking presence in the middle, and Louis Bartus, at small forward, should help, as well. The 6-foot-4 Herc is a player Gill is working with to improve footwork and someone the coach believes has a tremendous upside. Gill likes Bartus’ high basketball IQ and ability to do many of the little things.

AJ Feldman should add to the mix as a shooting threat at forward, while fellow senior Kyle Gibbon brings some athleticism and quickness into the fold at guard. All six players provided quality minutes with the varsity last year.

Gill is trying to keep things simple for his players as they learn a new system. He’s looking to play some man-to-man and zone on defense, while using quite a bit of pick and roll on the other end. He wants his team to play smart and controlled and avoid too much dribbling because it takes away from what they’re trying to do, Gill said.

“We’re getting back to the fundamentals,” Gill said. “You’ve got to do the small things the right way. They’re learning a new system and doing things differently. But they’re good kids who want to learn.”

He hopes it will help in what promises to be an athletic league that has not been particularly kind to the Raiders in recent seasons.
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