High school basketball season is just one month away and already, many people are dismissing Chaminade as a team that has seen its window for contention close. After winning a historic state championship last season, Chaminade is not even the favorite to win the Mission League… So what gives?
Shortly after the 2014-2015 school year began, sophomore sensation and offensive wizard, Remy Martin decided to take his talents back to nearby Sierra Canyon. If any media personnel still believed that Chaminade could run an effective offense, this huge blow convinced them otherwise. Couple that with the losses of Jack Williams to graduation as well as Trevor Stanback to Pasadena Maranatha via transfer and all of a sudden, few people believe in the Eagles.
Coping with the absence of Stanback and Williams in the paint will not be an easy task by any means for Coach Todd Wolfson’s team. Whether or not this dynamic duo was scoring at a consistent rate last season, the pair often proved to be the main focal point of opponents. With Stanback and Williams protecting the paint, perimeter players had the luxury of gambling defensively without getting burned. The duo anchored a team that prided itself on having one of the stingiest defenses in California.
This year though, the Eagles will have to reinvent themselves. Without Williams and Stanback, they will necessarily have to rely on an up-tempo style of play. So while the defense might suffer as a result, there will be no shortage of entertaining basketball in West Hills with the team using a “run-and-gun” style not unlike that of Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs.
Montana commit Michael Oguine has already accepted his new role for this season, “I’m gonna have to play a lot of positions, almost like a young Magic Johnson,” quipped the 6-foot senior point guard. “I need to be a team leader and do a lot more than last year- crash the boards harder, and run the floor with a better sense of purpose.” If the Eagles want to have any sort of success this upcoming year, they’ll almost certainly have to adopt Oguine’s team-first attitude.
There’s no denying that Chaminade has lost a significant amount of talent, but it could actually prove to be a blessing in disguise. Having so many capable scorers on the court at the same time can often lead to guys feeling as if they’re stepping on each other’s toes. While Oguine is undoubtedly the team’s leader this season, not even he feels as if he has to put up points in order to be effective. So while last year’s team often deferred to the “Big Three” in Oguine, Williams, and Stanback, expect a more balanced offensive attack this season.
This group isn’t playing to impress colleges or to show their grandchildren their stats from high school, but rather to win ballgames. Fortunately, Wolfson knows how to best do that, emphasizing floor spacing, converting open looks, and most importantly, trusting one another. While the basis of Wolfson’s coaching philosophies is team chemistry, what many outsiders have actually neglected to consider is this team’s uncanny ability to play off of each other. This familiarity won’t show up in the stat book, but it will undeniably determine how the ball club will fare this year.
When asked what onlookers should expect from himself and his teammates this season, Oguine said, “Expect a team that will play with a chip on its shoulder every night. We may not be the biggest team, but we definitely play the hardest. All of this outside chatter just adds fuel to our fire.”
And there certainly hasn’t been a shortage of heart. During fall basketball, Chaminade has defeated the likes of El Camino along with Cantwell Sacred Heart, among other well-run programs. So from the inside looking out, I think that this team could be a serious dark-horse contender in the race for the CIF and state championships. Only time will tell whether or not the Eagles will fly to great heights this year.
– Conner Hoyt