ROCK ISLAND — The big guys are savvy veterans. The little guys are young, talented and kind of cocky.
It will be up to Rock Island boys' basketball coach Thom Sigel and his staff to put that all together this season and that includes work during this weekend's annual Sharp Shootout at Rock Island High School.
Up front, seniors Solomon Gustafson, Taurean Holtam, Malachi Key and Andrew McDuffy have been around the block and will be counted on to bring leadership and teaching.
In the backcourt, only junior Jordan Rice has played a minute of varsity basketball, but all the guards won a lot in junior high, at the sophomore level and in AAU summer ball.
"The competition level of our young guys is unproven right now," Sigel said. "From what I have seen from top to bottom they do compete and push each other. I'm excited about the new faces but they are still unproven.
"Yes, they have won at the lower levels and they know the expectations are high for them, but that doesn't guarantee a thing. More than looking at how many wins they have had, I want to see if they are guys who want to be competitors and want to improve."
Having the bigs with a great deal of knowledge of the system will be a key to make some freakish athletes on the perimeter a big part of the team.
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"Our seniors have that leadership and will be able to use what they learned last year to tell the new guys," Sigel said. "The biggest thing is telling them what is expected."
Gustafson is excited to see how things mesh with this team.
"I think this is going to work out really well," he said. "We have never really worked plays through our bigs and because we know things better and those guys are really good, I think it is going to work well. I thought this might be a challenge, but these guys pick up things very quick."
Added Holtam, "It is a test right now for us to come together as a group. But when it does it is going to be a fun sight and we can go a long way together. Everyone is pushing each other. I think having Jordan will really help the young guards because he has been through it for a year."
One thing this young group brings is a boatload of confidence. Call them cocky, but they truly believe they will back it up.
"It doesn't have to be the older players who run the court, I don't mind if the young guys want to push us," Holtam said. "That's what we need and in the end we all want to bring the intensity all the time."
Gustafson admits this is a new look for the Rocks with so much swagger around the newcomers.
"I do like the humbleness of some of the past teams, but sometimes something new and someone who doesn't mind kicking your behind is OK," he said. "I have no problem with them talking to us and pushing us. I trust them. A few days ago Eli (Reese) busted me and at first I didn't like it, then I realized he was right.
"I'm really excited because I think the young guys will push us to have a great senior year. These younger guys do like to talk which is a skill that I've never had. But I kind of like it."
For results from Day 1 of the Sharp Shootout, please see page B2