PITSBURG – Franklin Monroe boys basketball coach Troy Myers enters the 2016-17 season encouraged by the work his team has put in to prepare for this year.
“This is the most competitive practice group that we have had,” Myers said. “Collectively, they are passionate about finding ways to get better. That dates back to preseason and summer with guys pressing to get in the gym and improve their game. It’s not something you can force, and if you do force it, it isn’t genuine, so we are certainly grateful for that.”
Franklin Monroe has some big holes to fill this season as the Jets lost four seniors to graduation – Zach Hyre, Bradey Hesler, Zach Brown and Landon Peters. In that group were two of the team’s top three scorers last year.
“Although we don’t return a lot of varsity court-time experience, we are returning players from our program last year that have done a tremendous job realigning our work habits with the vision of the program,” Myers said. “It becomes difficult to endure a long season when your work doesn’t match your vision on a consistent basis. That includes our seniors but is not exclusive to them. Every one of them has taken ownership of our culture in a sincere manner. Not just a white board motto, put-a-poster-on-the-wall type culture but spending time in real life lessons and values that helps develop them personally, which helps develop them as a player.”
One of the top returners for FM is sophomore Ethan Conley. He was named second team all-Cross County Conference as a freshman and is the Jets’ leading returning scorer, having averaged 14.9 points per game as last season.
This year the Jets have a pair of seniors in guard Mason Conley and center Kameron Thurmond.
The Jets have a large junior class that includes guard/forward Zach Cable, guard Bryce Filbrun, forward Corben Hartzell, guard Parker Hesler, guard Noah Koffer, forward Cole McGlinch, guard Kyle Ressler and forward Matthew Williams.
“There seems to be opportunity for more guys to see the floor than maybe we have had in the past, simply because they are sharing ownership and accountability for the workload,” Myers said. “While I can’t tell you who will walk on the floor for tip-off opening night, I will say there is a good chance every one dressed will play. Again, I think if work aligns with vision in a player’s action, not his words, it should be rewarded.
“If there has been one strength to our team more noticeable than any other, it would be their understanding of our values and implementing them in our daily work. Throughout preseason we have seen habits change, some drastically, as a result. No it’s not an X and O thing, and maybe not the answer people want to hear, but the players aren’t X’s and O’s; they are people, and you have to treat them like that first.”
Franklin Monroe is working on understanding what it will take to be successful, Myers said, and trying to build on that.
“I really look forward to being with this team every day; not for selfish reasons but because of the willingness and hunger everyone has to get better,” Myers said. “We still have a ways to go in terms of schematics, but that will take shape if we keep pressing ‘the edge’ on a daily basis.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.