LYNN – First-year coach Travis Stangland steps in at Randolph Southern knowing it will take some time for his Rebels to learn and new system. But so far, he’s been please with the progress. He expects effort every night, and great defense.
Stangland was picked to replace Tom Byrum, who took a coaching position at Union City. He had coached the previous four seasons at Jac-Cen-Del where his teams were 44-55 over four years, including a 19-7 mark in 2016.
Stangland inherits an outfit that returns just one starter, top scorer Jordan Saylor (12 ppg), from a team that finished with 12 wins and won a sectional championship for the first time since 2000-2001.
Key losses from last year are top rebounder Caleb Wissel (10 ppg), Zach Jessee, Huner Spain, Coby Croyle, Luke Beauchat and Will Hunt.
“I’m throwing a lot at the kids right now, but they are learning from their mistakes. The good part is that they are working hard and trying to fo what I’m asking of them.”
Stangland is a fundamentalist and stresses hard-nosed defense and hustle.
“We want to be a team that gets after it every night,” he said. “Defense is a mindset and you have to bring it every night. We want to be as disruptive on the defensive end as we can be and make our opponents as uncomfortable as possible.”
This will be Saylor’s fourth year as a starter, so he will be expected to carry a big load. The 5-foot-7 senior has great range and can get hot in a hurry.
“He’s going to have to be our go-to guy, and he’s probably our best defender,” Stangland says. “He’ll probably be our vocal leader as well.”
Others with significant varsity experience are 5-11 junior guard Parker Retter, 5-0 junior guard Isaiah Peters, 5-8 senior guard Ethan Haines, 5-11 junior forward Bryce Dalzell and 6-5 sophomore Carter Abshear.
Conner Wright, a 6-4 junior forward, should help the Rebels on the block, while 5-9 freshman Elijah Allen has tons of talent and will figure into the mix.
Abshear, with his size and length, is clearly a player Stangland hopes can come into his own. The big guy started out of necessity early in the year when an injury forced Wissel to the sidelines, so he was able to get a great deal of experience. He made 51 percent of his field goals, but struggled at the free throw line.
“I don’t think he really understands how good he can be. He has a ton of potential,” Stangland says of Abshear. “If he plays well for us, he will add a whole new dimension to the team.
Stangland also feels like Wright, who is physical on the inside, will be a big addition. Dalzell will help on the inside as well, but an injury has him temporarily sidelined.
There is good talent at the junior varsity level as well, so the future is bright for the green and white.
Southern opened the season on Wednesday at home against Union and travels to Winchester on Friday.