Kevin Martin has found out being a first-year coach isn't always simple.

Kevin Martin has found out being a first-year coach isn't always simple.

He inherits a Johnstown-Monroe High School boys basketball team that finished 8-13 overall last season under Steve Johnston in his only season as coach.

"The biggest thing right now is getting kids used to the new stuff," said Martin, who was an assistant at Kenyon College last year after spending two seasons as an assistant at Westerville North. "It's different in a lot of ways than what they were doing last year, so it's something that's going to take time.

"The biggest thing is defensive intensity. We want to force players to the sidelines and the baseline. We're working to change angles we take on defense and we're trying to find the best way to do that."

The top returnee is 6-foot-4 junior forward Riley Cannon, who led the team in scoring (11.3) and rebounding (7.4) last season.

"Our strength would be Cannon inside," said Martin, whose team opens Saturday at Eastmoor. "(Cannon) is going to have to get touches inside for us to be successful. Whether he scores or not, it doesn't matter because when he touches the ball it will open things up for everyone else."

Cody Green, a 5-11 junior point guard, and Michael Kessler, a 6-0 junior shooting guard, have the most varsity experience along with Cannon. Senior Jake Hollis, a 6-3 guard and forward, averaged 8.3 points in the first seven games before a season-ending shoulder injury.

"We're definitely concentrating more on defense than we did last year," said Kessler, who averaged 7.0 points last season. "We're playing better man-to-man and we've started working more on the zone now."

Three seniors -- 6-0 guard Jay Orders, 6-1 forward Kurt Sammons and 6-3 forward Kevin Stutz -- and 6-3 junior forward Shawn Block round out the lineup.

"We have four juniors and four seniors and that makes up the varsity for us and we're looking for others to give us minutes," said Martin, who is assisted by Chad Cohagen, Chase Harvey, Scott Helmke and Mike Tennant. "One thing that concerns me is our depth. We have eight legitimate varsity guys and we'll have to look to the junior varsity to fill the rest of the spots. If we get hit with the injury bug we'll definitely have to find a way to deal with it because it's not like we can go nine or 10 deep."

The Johnnies went 6-8 in the MBC to finish sixth behind Utica at 13-1, Fredericktown and Northridge at 10-4 and Centerburg and Loudonville at 7-7 and ahead of East Knox at 3-11 and Danville at 0-14.

"We need to take care of the basketball and not turn the ball over. If we do that, then we'll have a chance to win some games and be competitive in all of them," Martin said. "Last year we turned the ball over way too much and we did not shoot the ball well so we definitely have to improve in those areas."

The Johnnies begin their league schedule Dec. 9 at home against Utica. They lost to the Redskins 51-40 and 56-40 last season.

•The girls team opened last Saturday at Heath and will open its MBC schedule Thursday at home against Utica. It will play another league game Saturday at Centerburg.

At a glance

•Coach: Kevin Martin, first season

•Opener: Saturday at Eastmoor

•Key players: Riley Cannon, Cody Green, Jake Hollis, Michael Kessler and Kurt Sammons