- This is the first in a series of previews of Q-C Metro boys' basketball teams. Coming tomorrow: Rock Island.
On the surface, the Alleman boys' basketball team is entering a season of unknowns.
Even Pat Rangel acknowledges that.
"Obviously, there's an unknown of who will step up," the Alleman head coach said. "We have some young guys and some inexperienced guys."
The inexperience far outnumbers the experience, but the Pioneers are confident they will not take a step back. Alleman hopes to continue the momentum it established last season when it compiled its best record in seven years.
Providing Rangel with enough evidence that Alleman can extinguish the uncertainty regarding the roster are the players wearing the green and white.
"I can tell you these guys are ready to get after it and play hard," Rangel said. "That's the makeup of Alleman basketball."
A year ago, having a blue-collar mentality helped the Pioneers reach the Class 3A regional final. Time will tell if it happens again.
What are your expectations of this team as you enter your second season? "To continue to play hard and get better every day. I look at myself as a leader, not as a coach. I want to teach these guys as seeing themselves as who they are and what kind of players they can be. I'll help them get there. That's really what it's about. If they can be successful as a group of individuals, we're going to be successful as a team.
What's the strength of this team? "Heart. Because we were so young going into this season, I said to my coaches that last year we had some pretty tough-minded kids. I questioned whether we'd have that same kind of toughness. I'm pretty confident we are. Nothing's changed -- we're going to get after it."
How much will senior guard Adam Hoogerwerf mean to the team this season? "There's no doubt that Adam is our go-to guy and our leader. He's a four-year varsity player. He's been in every situation there is, whether it be football, basketball or track. We definitely do miss him (as he plays on the football team that has reached the Class 4A state semifinals). But we don't think about that right now. Once he comes back, it's going to be a huge plus. I'm looking forward to the younger kids being able to see what a true captain and true leader somebody like him is."
A year ago, Alleman entered the season on a 24-game Western Big 6 losing streak before splitting its league games. How much does it help this team that they have had recent success in an always-tough conference? "It's extremely huge. We didn't talk about (the losing streak) a whole lot last year. A lot of our players weren't really responsible for that streak, but having the success we had only shows we can be competitive in the Western Big 6. It gave our younger kids confidence. It's drawn a lot of excitement. It was a huge springboard into this year. Whether or not we'll be able to match that remains to be seen. But it's definitely a different outlook our players and fans have."
Are the six players missing because of the football playoff run having an impact on the team now? "Not really. We've resigned ourselves to the fact that the guys are going to make it to state and win the state championship. That's huge, not only for our basketball program, but the entire school. Having accepted that, we've moved forward and prepared as if we're not going to have those players. It hasn't disrupted our approach to the (season-opening) Geneseo Thanksgiving Tournament. We're going as is, and our young guys are stepping up."
How much depth will this roster have? "We won't be as deep. Our juniors are young and saw very limited minutes as sophomores. We really only have two players (Hoogerwerf and Sam Pirmann) who have experience. From that, it's really who rises to the occasion. I'm looking to go six, seven, eight guys deep. Who those guys are remains to be seen."
Meet the Pioneers
Coach: Pat Rangel (2nd season, 18-11) Last season: 18-11, 5-5 Western Big 6; lost to Sterling, 54-49, in Class 3A regional final Returning letterwinners: Srs.: Sam Lootens (5-10, G), Adam Hoogerwerf (5-11, G), Sam Pirmann (6-2 G) Newcomers: Srs.: Dan Cutkomp (5-10, G), Joe Boland (6-0, F); Jrs.: Jeremy Keim (6-1, G), Charlie Garrett (6-0, G), Kevin O'Keeffe (6-0, G), Marcus Martin (6-2, F), Steven Ewald (6-1, G), Aaron Murray (6-2, F), Joey Mihm (6-5, F), Alec Diab (6-7, F) Schedule (All games 7:30 p.m., unless tournament or where noted): Nov. 23-24 at Geneseo Thanksgiving Tournament; Dec. 30 Rock Island; Dec. 4 Sterling; Dec. 7 Moline; Dec. 14 United Township; Dec. 15 at Genesis Shootout; Dec. 26-29 at State Farm Holiday Classic; Jan. 8 at Rockridge; Jan. 11 at Quincy; Jan. 12 at Bloomington Central Catholic Shootout; Jan. 15 Davenport Assumption; Jan. 18 at Galesburg; Jan. 19 Peoria Richwoods, 6:30 p.m.; Jan. 25 at Rock Island; Jan 26 vs. Wheaton St. Francis at Wharton Field House, 3 p.m.; Feb. 1 at Moline; Feb. 8 at United Township; Feb. 15 Quincy; Feb. 19 Rock Falls; Feb. 22 Galesburg
Today is Thursday, Dec. 5, the 339th day of 2013. There are 26 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: A new passenger car has been placed on the Coal Valley railroad, and R.R. Cable is running the trains at present. 1888 -- 125 years ago: The Rev. G.W. Gue preached a convincing sermon on the need of a new First Methodist Church in Rock Island 1913 -- 100 years ago: Dr. W.S. Marquis preached his farewell sermon at Broadway Presbyterian Church to the combined congregations from First Methodist, First Baptist, United Presbyterian and South Park Presbyterian churches. 1938 -- 75 years ago: Rock Island's mayor is seeking to enforce the rules governing PWA projects in the city which state that local men are to be hired for the work. 1963 -- 50 years ago: The Argus Santa Claus requests that the names of needy Rock Island boys and girls through 12 years of age be registered by parents or guardians from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 11or Dec. 14. 1988 -- 25 years ago: Alcoa and its employee union have reached tentative agreement on a 43-month labor contract covering about 7,500 workers at six plants, including 1,900 employees at Alcoa's Davenport Works, company and union officials said today.