In his 17th basketball season as a head coach, John Feasel is well aware that style depends largely on personnel.
So as his fourth year as Olentangy boys basketball coach began Nov. 30 with a 53-45 loss at Mifflin, Feasel and his players found themselves adjusting to a look unlike that which the Braves have displayed during his tenure.
Having lost more than 75 percent of its scoring to graduation after finishing 14-10 overall and 4-6 in the OCC-Buckeye Division last season, Olentangy will employ a slower tempo more dependent on inside play.
"We won't come down, fire up 3(-pointers) and get a running game going up and down the floor. We'll be more of a post-up, get up and down the floor and play good defense-type team," Feasel said. "We have to work on stopping people. That will be our bread and butter, stopping people. Last year, we could outscore teams a little bit and stop them when we had to."
Olentangy averaged 65.2 points per game each of the past two seasons and 62 three seasons ago, scoring 80 or more points six times in that span.
Seniors Austin Brown (6-foot-2, forward), Jake Elmore (6-3, guard), Josiah Seymour (6-3, forward) and Dylan Sigler (6-7, forward/center) and juniors Caleb Gossett (6-5, forward) and Tavian James (6-3, guard/forward) are expected to pace the team as it tries to find its footing, both offensively and defensively.
Among the 2019 graduates was the program's all-time leading scorer in Sean Marks, who averaged 20.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.3 steals as a senior and finished with 1,419 points, a school record regardless of gender. Marks now plays at Ohio Dominican.
Behind Marks, scoring was balanced last year with 2019 graduates Noah Gossett (8.9 points), Alex Sieve (7.8), Luke Riedel (6.5) and Caleb Steele (6.5).
"We have a lot more shots to go around," Elmore said. "We need to find people to score."
Brown, a two-year letterwinner, already is impressed by the team's defensive effort.
"We have people taking charges, laying out their bodies for the team (and) diving for balls. That comes from the coaching staff. They preach that 24/7 and it's really sinking in this year," Brown said. "We talk a lot. We're always communicating. We know how to get through screens and know where people are. That just helps. When you know that's there, you can get up on your man. Everybody is playing better."
Rounding out the roster are seniors Sean Brown (6-2, guard) and Jack Gross (6-3, forward), juniors Luke Elmore (6-0, guard), Jack Hennegan (6-4, forward), Matt Kennedy (5-11, guard) and Zach Wieging (6-3, forward) and sophomore Ethan Smith (5-10, guard).
Kennedy is expected to miss the entire season because of a knee injury.
Seymour had a game-high 14 points against Mifflin.
Olentangy, which also visited Briggs on Dec. 4, plays its first four games on the road before its home opener Dec. 14 against Walnut Ridge.
The Braves begin OCC-Buckeye play Friday, Dec. 6, at Westerville South. Olentangy tied Westerville Central for fourth in the league last year behind champion Liberty (9-1) and lost to Hilliard Davidson 57-55 in a Division I district semifinal.
"It's probably the biggest team I've put on the floor, overall, top to bottom," Feasel said. "It's not four guards with a post player out there. It's more like four post players with a guard out there now. But you know what? That will be fine. You play the hand that's given to you. If you have to slow down and play defense, then that's what you have to do."
Bowling coach expects 'rewarding' season
The girls bowling team returns its second-, third- and fourth-leading scorers from last season and the boys are reloading virtually their entire lineup, but ninth-year coach Jim Brehm is embracing the challenge.
"Over the past nine years for the girls, we have had one or two dominant girls and a reasonable supporting cast, (but) this year any one of the first six could be the dominant bowler," Brehm said. "We have not had three kids (senior Kristen Mullins and sophomores Savannah Claar and Hannah Lamar) come in ready to go like this since I've been coaching."'
Claar averaged 156 pins per game last season as the girls went 14-6 and finished sixth in the Division I district tournament, two spots shy of advancing to state. Mullins, the girls' only senior, averaged 155.2 ahead of Lamar (144.7).
Brehm called sophomores Katie Claar and Alex Oberyszyn and freshman Phoebe Anderson "sleepers."
"We had a huge turnout for tryouts for both boys and girls, so it kind of makes sense that we had a few 'sleepers,' especially on the girls side," Brehm said. "Our (Nos.) 1-6 bowlers will be as solid going in as we have had in a while."
Brehm expects the boys' lineup to be fluid, led by juniors Evan McDonald and Derek Rather and sophomore Nathan Holycross.
"Only Derek, Evan and Nathan had their own ball prior to this year. It's not as challenging as you would expect because the improvement is so much more visible," Brehm said. "We will take our lumps compared to last year, but I think it will be more rewarding in the long run."
Rounding out the boys roster are juniors Sam Bycroft, Patrick Dempsey, Pratul Parida and Nick Wilson, sophomore Kai Whitacre and freshmen George Cecil, Teddy Cunningham, Alex Hilger and Kyle Worthman.
The rest of the girls team consists of junior Lillian Heinze and sophomore Eliza Foreman.
Olentangy opened Nov. 23 with the Red and Blue Classic at HP Lanes.
The Braves' home, COHSBC-A and OCC-Buckeye opener is Dec. 5 against New Albany at Delaware Lanes.
Below are the coming schedules for the Olentangy boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, hockey and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 6 -- At Westerville South
Dec. 10 -- At Dublin Coffman
*Dec. 6 -- Home vs. Westerville South
Dec. 10 -- Home vs. Coffman
*Dec. 5 -- New Albany at Delaware Lanes
*Dec. 9 -- Berlin at Delaware Lanes
Dec. 6 -- *Big Walnut, DeSales and Watterson at Central Ohio Gymnastics and Cheerleading
*Dec. 6 -- Gahanna at Chiller North
*Dec. 8 -- Upper Arlington at OhioHealth Ice Haus
Dec. 7 -- Olentangy Invitational