(03/23/2012)
By Gaylen Duskey
realfang@citlink.net

Years ago a college basketball coach had just finished a 1-21 season and was asked how he felt having all his starters back for the next season. He paused and answered: "How am I supposed to feel? We were bad and they're all back ..."

The following season his team won his league championship. Virtually the same situation exists for Danny Bunch and his Calhoun Red Devils as almost everyone is back.

Unlike the college coach who really didn't know how to react Bunch is pretty excited by the future.

He's especially excited that two of his players - both sophomores - were named to the All-LKC Third Team as forward Mason Sheldon and guard Ryan Slider were honored.

Their sophomore seasons were growth season for both as Slider had to shake off the rust of missing half his freshman season while learning to be an on-court leader. It was a season-long process as he struggled early against tough defenses but as he learned to control his at-time spectacular talents he developed into the floor leader that Bunch was looking for.

Sheldon had to fight nagging little injuries as the season wore on but as he overcame them and developed more confidence in his ball handling abilities and his strength around the basket he became a scary sight for opponents as he used his strength and overall athletic abilities to shine as the season progressed.

Add to those two a group of returnees including seniors-to-be Luke Moore, Ricky Hall and Trent Phillips and Derek Dawson and a strong freshman class that included starter Tyler Gerwig, speedy Lucas Wilson, Sammy Brady, Tyler Tanner, William Baker, Luke Sheldon, Dustin Turner and Nick Watkins and the Red Devils have depth, a commodity that has been lacking at times in the past.

Moore, Hall and Phillips all started at one time or another last season. Hall in particular has tremendous upside because of his 6-5, 300-pound frame. When Hall was on his game last season he was nearly impossible to stop inside.

Of the freshmen Gerwig was a starter and played with the varsity all season long. Wilson, because of his tremendous hustle especially on defense logged a lot of playing time also. Brady and Tanner are both prospects as inside players while the other four will play at the guard positions.

The Red Devils are also making some changes to the schedule, the most notable of which is adding home-and-home games with Hannan replacing the Ritchie County Tournament.

So ask Bunch how he looks at having almost everyone back from a 1-21 season and he isn't sure how things will go. The future looks promising.


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