Alan Batiste cant wait to hit the floor.
Sure, the new coach on the block at Durango High School has ran the show before, most notably as a former DHS boys junior varsity basketball coach. But when the Demons varsity hits the floor Tuesday at Kirtland Central, hell take charge of the top squad for the first time in his coaching career, replacing Tom Dunne, who resigned after a 9-12 season last year.
I cant wait; Im excited, Batiste said.
If all goes according to plan, fans can expect to see a fairly familiar form of basketball. Batiste, who played for Fort Lewis College as a senior in 2003-04 and was an assistant coach for a season, favors the uptempo, run-and-gun style that his former coach, Bob Hofman, employs up the hill with the Skyhawks.
Hell have to impliment the system without the guy perhaps best suited to run it. Junior point guard Easton Garcia is expected to miss most or all of the season with a knee injury sustained during football season. In Garcias wake, the backcourt ball control duties will fall to a group of guards including Wil Frounfeller, Ty Elliott, and returning senior Gustavo Zavala.
Zavala, known mostly for providing instant offense off the bench in recent years, said hes ready for the challenge of stepping into the starting lineup and helping the offense hum along and excited about the promise of the all-new starting backcourt.
I feel like now I have to be more of a leader-type figure ... instead of like last year when I just came off the bench and shot and stuff, he said.
Batiste has high expectations for Zavala in the leadership department as the teams lone returning senior.
Were expecting a lot out of him to be a leader on the floor, the head coach said. Goose (Zavalas nickname) well be expecting to create a lot.
In the post, several players will be counted on to replace the output and size of departed seniors Austin Rochford, Chase Cushing, T.J. Leeder and Dillon Lammon. Returning this season to increased roles and expectations will be junior Joe Keresey, the 6-0 forward who spent the fall quarterbacking the Demons to a second consecutive playoff berth on the gridiron, and 6-2 junior Morgan Miller, alongside newcomer and sophomore Nick Hamlin.
Were looking foward to Nick Hamlin, a sophomore, stepping up down low, and Morgan Miller to have a big year as well, Batiste said.
Joining that trio up front will be a combination of Lukas DeBolt, Kevin Rangel, Danny Rowley, Jared Blake and Marcus Sansoni. Batiste said he expects to go about 10 players deep and added that hell be counting on Rowley and Blake to infuse the lineup with energy off the bench.
Zavala expressed excitement and the potential possessed by the frontcourt.
Nick is like a vocal leader, and Mo is more of an outside guy, good in the high post, Zavala said. And Luke is a tough guy down low.
As for the new head coach, Batiste said hes hopeful his first squad wastes no time carving out an identity. With new faces all around, the possibilities are numerous.
Weve got a whole brand-new team, and theyre getting to know each other, he said. Itll be a good thing to figure things out with the roles.