UNION CITY – As Mississinawa Valley gets ready for the 2016-17 boys basketball season coach Tim Barga sees a lot of room for improvement for the Blackhawks.
“We haven’t really looked real good in the scrimmage games so far,” Coach Barga said. “It’s been pretty weak. We really don’t know exactly if we’re going to pick up the pace or not. If we don’t we’re in trouble, but I’m hoping that we will.”
While Mississinawa Valley hasn’t been getting the results it wants, it’s not for a lack of effort.
“We’re getting the effort out of the boys,” Barga said. “That right there could win us a couple extra games.”
Mississinawa Valley is working to get its players ready for the varsity season as only three – Ethan Bowman, Andrew Johns and Trent Perkins – are returning varsity lettermen.
Bowman is the Blackhawks’ top returner, having earned second team all-Cross County Conference honors last year as a sophomore. A year ago Bowman averaged 14.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
“Ethan Bowman will be our top guy. I think everybody in the league knows that,” Barga said of his only returning starter. “We’re expecting a lot out of him.”
Johns and Perkins, both of whom are seniors, will move into starting roles this season after coming off the bench last year.
“Those two right there really have to pick up the pace,” Barga said.
Sophomore DJ Howell also will enter the starting lineup, Barga said. The fifth starting spot is still up for grabs.
“The fifth one, we really don’t know for sure,” Coach Barga said. “We need that fifth guy to step up and show us what they really want to do for the team.”
Last year with Bowman, Colyn Nelson and Devan Rinderle, Mississinawa Valley had three players who averaged more than 10 points per game. The Blackhawks don’t have that much firepower this year, Barga said, but they do have depth.
“The bench is going to be pretty close to as good as our starters are,” he said.
In contention for playing time this season will be seniors Brandon Beanblossom, JJ Howard and Darin Miller; junior Matt Slob; sophomore Kyler Guillozet; and freshmen Cody Dirksen and Alex Scholl.
“I think the seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th players are better than last year,” Barga said.
With Mississinawa Valley’s roster looking very different than last season, the Blackhawks have had to alter their offense to fit their personnel.
“We’ve got a real different offense,” Barga said. “Hopefully it works out for us. A little more movement, a little more motion in our offense this season.”
Because they’re not as tall or quick as last year, the Blackhawks will need to play good team basketball. They’ll also have to excel at fundamentals such as making their free throws.
“The little things are going to be the things that have to win us ballgames,” Barga said.
With so much uncertainty still surrounding the team, Coach Barga said the Blackhawks haven’t set any long-term goals for the upcoming season. Rather they’re evaluating their status as the season progresses.
“We’re just taking it a couple days at a time right now,” Barga said.
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.