Maybe it is not the conventional way to build a basketball squad. That is OK by head coach Russell Herman. Wins matter, to be sure, but Herman is changing the identity of the Colts, starting with helping shape human beings – not just athletes.
It may sound like Herman is yearning for a second job as a life coach, but this plan comes full circle. More participation in the basketball program and building support among the youth brings more fans to games. It invigorates a fan base. That brings more passion to the stands. That creates a home court advantage. That might translate to more wins. That pumps up the student-athletes, and the circle starts anew.
Changes will bleed into the Xs and Os. Herman is asking his players to sacrifice gaudy individual numbers for team efficiency. Depth is a priority.
“For the guys that are returners, that is an adjustment for them to make, because they may play less minutes this year than last year,” Herman said. “It’s a fine line to walk. I think the thing we’re trying to do is build a sense of family for the kids, where we’re all in it for the same reasons, the same purpose.”
Herman is counting on a blue-collar senior class to carry the proverbial torch for the new attitude. Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I second teamer Austin Vaden leads the pack with his ability to slash to the basket. Jordan Sparks, Marcus Saucedo and Colton Flax join him in starting roles.
Sophomore guard Steven Solis will likely round out the starting five, but Herman will point deep down his bench to search for the hot hand.
“We’re planning on playing a lot more players every night,” Herman said. “It’s going to be truly a team thing, a team deal. If our guys coming off the bench aren’t productive, we’re going to have to find someone else off the bench to be productive.”
Josh Strotkamp, Cody Nicks, Johnny Hyde and point guard Gabe Chavez will be familiar faces in the rotation.
The Colts continue their quest to ascend to the upper echelon of the rough-and-tumble AVCTL. Herman said the league boasts some of the strongest football teams in the state, and that attitude translates over to basketball as teams stress physical defense that deny easy baskets.
“I think we have to understand that it's a journey. It's not a one game season,” he said.
Campus wants to be more energetic about its position at the end of the season than when it started. The first goal is to host a first round sub-state game. And in its own way, the success needed to do that on the court will blossom from new principles off it.
“The group of kids that we have this year is similar to what we've had in the past. They're a great group of kids,” Herman said. “We're hoping to translate that to making the right choices on the court.”