Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2012, 6:17 pm

UT 'responding well' despite young roster

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By Daniel Makarewicz, danmak@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: John Greenwood
UTHS's Trevor May guards a teammate during basketball practice Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Coach Marc Polite said his team is in a building stage because they are very young, with only one senior and most sophomores and juniors.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: John Greenwood
UTHS's Lamont Mitchell (#40) is defended by Deveric Rogers during practice Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Coach Marc Polite said his team is in a building stage because they are very young, with only one senior and most sophomores and juniors.
This is the third in a series of previews of Q-C Metro boys' basketball teams. Coming tomorrow: Geneseo.

A staple of the United Township boys' basketball program in recent years was a roster built on experience, depth and athleticism.

Missing this season is the experience.

The Panthers return one starter and two other letterwinners from last year's team that finished below .500 for the first time in Marc Polite's four-year tenure as head coach. There is athleticism and pieces for a deep roster, but no returning experience is something new for a program blessed with so many veteran pieces the last few years.

"I've always prided myself on playing young guys so we always have that continuity," Polite said. "Last year, we were caught in a situation where we had some young guys who needed development at younger levels. We foresaw this coming years. It's amazing that it's here and we're in this position.

"It's been different, but the kids are responding well."

The last statement provides hope for UT. There are challenges with this young roster, but Polite is excited about the potential of this group and their attitudes so far in preseason.

What has been the biggest challenge this preseason?
"A familiarity thing. Them getting use to me; me getting use to them. It's a totally different connection with them. That's what we're navigating with them -- establishing trust. That's something that's going to have to take time."

Do you have an idea who will be in the starting five?
"No idea. I know that's scary, but we have a lot of guys who do a lot of the same things. Trying to differentiate one from the other is difficult. It's not going to be like years passed where it's the same guys -- it's going to be a hodgepodge of different guys. What we've stressed is starting doesn't matter. We're so interchangeable."

Does having one senior on the roster cause a concern?
"Not at all. Anytime you're dealing with high school athletics, you're going to catch years like this. We knew coming in that this could be a possibility. We just caught in a situation where we didn't have great numbers. I'm not overly concerned. I'm not concerned with the numbers of our program. We've had to make lots and lots of cuts. The interest is strong. We've got to keep moving forward."

Where do you anticipate the scoring coming from?
"Everyone. We have a lot of guys who do things well. This is going to be a year where we probably won't have a double-digit scorer. There are a lot of five, six-, seven-, eight-point guys. Our balance will be our strength."

How much athleticism does this team have?
"We have kids who have some bounce and can run. I'm just anxious to see what we look like in a game environment. We have a group that has the building blocks to be similar to teams we've had in the past. They're just a year younger. We'll have to wait and see. We have some potential to be that. We've got to let these guys mature.

What is the strength of this team?
"Depth. Cohesiveness. This is probably the first group I've had that's had to rely on each other. The strength is the depth and ability to lean on each other. That's the essence of basketball."


Meet the Panthers

Coach: Marc Polite (5th season, 62-49)
Last season: 13-14, 5-5 Western Big 6; lost to Moline, 61-38, in Class 4A regional semifinal
Returning letterwinners: Jrs.: Evan Spurgetis (5-8, G), Trevor May (5-8, G); Soph.: Ryan Merideth (6-2, G)
Newcomers: Sr.: Juan Lopez (5-11, G); Jrs.: Cody Vroman (5-10, G), Raymond Terronez (6-4, F), Keegan Wenskunas (5-8, G), Deveric Rogers (6-1, F), Dalton Oakes (6-3, F), Michael Terronez (6-4, F); Sophs.: Javen Goodwin (6-1, G), Lamont Mitchell (6-3, G), Nate Zinke (6-6, F)
Schedule (All games 7:30 p.m., unless tournament or where noted): Nov. 19, 23-24 at Galesburg Thanksgiving Tournament; Nov. 30 Quincy; Dec. 4 Davenport West, 7 p.m.; Dec. 7 Rock Island; Dec. 8 at Davenport Central, 6:30 p.m.; Dec. 14 at Alleman; Dec. 15 Genesis Shootout; Dec. 27-29 at Pontiac Holiday Tournament; Jan. 4 Peoria Notre Dame; Jan. 5 Pekin, 6:30 p.m.; Jan. 11 at Galesburg; Jan. 18 Moline; Jan. 19 at Bettendorf, 6:30 p.m.; Jan. 25 at Quincy; Jan. 26 at Bartonville Limestone, 6:30 p.m.; Feb. 1 at Rock Island; Feb. 8 Alleman; Feb. 9 Chillicothe IVC, 6:30 p.m.; Feb. 15 Galesburg; Feb. 22 at Moline