Sophomore Matt Ruskey races for the basket on a break away during a scrimmage Tuesday night at Upper Perk.
Three wins in two years. Three head coaches in three years.
Three has not been a charmed number for the Upper Perkiomen boys basketball team.
So why would Bruce Schmidt take on the third variation of his Upper Perk career by stepping in as head coach?
“I thought it would be some kind of continuity from last year to this year. Plus I like the kids; they’re great kids.”
Schmidt followed former head coach Jeff Huddleston to Upper Perk from Upper Dublin and served as Huddleston’s assistant for several years. Last year he helped first year coach Ed Lapinski. When Lapinski had to resign because of changes in his job, Schmidt applied and got the position.
Now the rebuilding work from a 2-20 season begins, and familiarity is a big plus in Schmidt’s view.
“Ed and I had talked a lot, and he used some of the stuff we used before when he was here playing. Now we’re going to change some things, do a couple things different, but basically it’s the same, and they know, having me around last year, what I’m about.”
What Schmidt’s team is about is a lot of speed but not much height. The tallest guy in the projected starting lineup is Mike Winters at 6’2.
“We want to run. We want to be up tempo. We’re small, so we have to have five guys working as a unit together at both ends of the court for us to be able to run out and score easy and turn people over,” Schmidt said.
Junior Chandler Junk explained the strategy this way: “As soon as the ball goes in the hoop, we’re getting and going, and if we don’t have anything, pull it out and run the offense.”
In addition to Winters and Junk, the coach projects Robbie Hinson, Josh Wynder and Joey Marinelli as his starters, or at least his first unit.
If all goes as planned, the hectic pace will be tiring for opponents as well as the Tribe, and Schmidt plans on using as many people as possible.
“Those guys know if they get a little winded, somebody’s going to come off the bench and do the job for us.”
Schmidt got his first look at his team in competition during a scrimmage with Christopher Dock last Saturday and was encouraged by what he saw, especially at the defensive end.
“We played man 'D' most of the time. There are areas that need some work, but overall I liked how hard we played defense.
“All our players saw what we need to work on as a team plus as individuals also.”
What Schmidt likes most about his team is attitude.
“The kids want to win. They don’t like that [losing] feeling. They’re really working hard to get that feeling out of their system and win.”
Junk, who is now playing under his third head coach, agreed. “We can’t hang our heads. We have to move on and learn from it.”
Schmidt, who is being assisted by Upper Perk grad Todd Swenk, expects the Tribe to be competitive in the Pac-10, but he knows his team has to set smaller goals first.
“We want to be better than we were last year. I want our kids, every day, to be better when they leave the court than when they walked on the court, whether it’s practice or a game or a scrimmage. We get a little bit better each day, we’ll be okay.”