By Spenser Hanson/For The Daily Reporter
GREENFIELD — Greenfield-Central’s Michael Lewis is entering his third year as the head coach, and he is facing his first big “reloading” test of his tenure.
After graduating four senior starters from a team that won its first game in a loaded sectional field since 2003, the focus now turns to building a sustainable and competitive program.
“I look forward to growing up with this group,” Lewis said. “Every day is an opportunity for us to get better individually and collectively.”
The Cougars return only one starter, senior guard Drey Jameson, who recently signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball at Ball State University.
However, two key bench contributors will be elevated to the starting lineup this year in senior forward Josh Mundell and junior guard Will O’Connor. Both are expected to provide critical elements to the team’s success this season.
“Will O’Connor has to be the guy,” Lewis said when asked who he expected to lead the team. “Many people think that being a leader is about scoring points, but I believe it is way more about being emotionally invested in every play, holding teammates accountable, and playing with great passion. I know he is looking forward to stepping into that role.”
As for Mundell, Lewis has been impressed with the energy he brought to practices and offseason workouts.
“He has done a great job. . . of bringing great intensity and toughness every day. His passion will be invaluable this year,” Lewis said.
Filling out the projected starting five for the Cougars are juniors Matt Turner at guard and 6-foot-8 Brian Long at center.
Two underclassmen are expected to get a chance to contribute to the varsity squad at some point throughout the season in freshmen Logan Graddy and Brady Mundell.
“Graddy is going to be a very good player at G-C. He is a very smart player who we expect to get an opportunity to make an impact this year,” Lewis said. “Mundell is also a kid we are really excited about; he has a long way to go, but he has a unique skill set and is completely fearless.”
The Cougars that take the floor in the opening game of the season may not resemble last year’s 20-5 squad, but Lewis has used his three years to build the program to a point where opponents can expect the same competitiveness year-in and year-out.
“Our guys have bought into being gym rats and having a great will to compete,” said Lewis. “We are excited about not only our high school players, but the junior high and even the younger players in our GCYBB feeder program.”
Lewis has an interesting stance on team goals that permeates throughout the program: “We never talk about goals. We only talk about things we can control and never wasting an opportunity to get better. We are only focused on winning our next rep.”
For the Cougars, the “next rep” doesn’t just include the next game, it includes every aspect of day-to-day life.
“Our kids understand the importance of our culture… whether it is in practice, the weight room, or the classroom,” Lewis stated.
With all that being said about the long-term growth of the Greenfield-Central program, Lewis is excited to see what this specific year’s varsity players can do.
“This is an opportunity for new guys to step up,” Lewis said. “I know our guys are excited to show what they are capable of doing.”
2016-17 Projected Starting Five
4.5 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.0 apg
5.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 0.7 apg
1.2 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 0.5 apg
OFF THE BENCH: Casey Phillips, SR. (GUARD), Jared Jackson, SR. (GUARD), John Davis, SR. (FORWARD), Logan Graddy, FR. (GUARD), Brady Mundell, FR. (FORWARD).
30-20 in 3rd year at school
87-53 in 7th year overall
Gary Cerqua, Josh Mullins, JR Angle, Bill Batton