Huskies expect big things in 2005-06 |

Huskies expect big things in 2005-06

Shane Macomber/Vail DailyHuskies boys basketball coach Philip Tronsrue, right, gives out the instructions at Wednesday's practice in Eagle-Vail. Battle Mountain, ranked in both state polls, is the favorite to win the 4A Slope this season.

EAGLE-VAIL – Battle Mountain is favored to win its league. The Huskies are ranked among the state’s elite. And there is a general belief that the Huskies will be down on the Front Range come the end of the season.The kicker here is that we’re talking about Battle Mountain boys basketball – not hockey. The previously unthinkable could happen in 2005-06. The Huskies are favored to win their first league title in school history.”Flat out, we have two expectations. No. 1 is to win the league championship,” fourth-year Huskies coach Philip Tronsrue said. “No. 2 is to make it to Denver. We want to get out of those first couple rounds. We want have a league championship on that banner. We want to prove to some people that we’re capable of playing with some Front Range schools.””We’ve been working hard,” senior power forward Connor Drumm said. “The first day of practice, that was the first thing on my mind. It would be huge to get something like that.”Huskies boys basketball – a reminder – basketball is ranked No. 8 by The Denver Post and No. 9 by The Rocky Mountain News. Never has a Huskies basketball team been ranked in the preseason.Though Tronsrue was pleased with the preseason accolades, he sees them as a challenge.

“The thing we talked about was No. 1, people out there perceive us to be this good,” the coach said. “So whether it’s in writing or whether it’s by word of mouth, we have to go out and prove it. It means nothing to anybody. All it does is fires everyone else up.”Two towersThe reason for optimism in Eagle-Vail is that four starters return from last year’s 16-8 state-playoff team. Drumm, last year’s team-leading scorer, is at the four spot with fellow big man Trent Beckley at center.Drumm has been all-league for three straight years, the first at Battle Mountain to do so since Josh Henry. Similar in size, but likely more athletic than Battle Mountain’s last super star on the court, Drumm could well surpass Henry’s accomplishments this season.This towering duo could be lethal if two things occur. The first is that Beckley needs to stay on the court. Last year as a junior, Beckley had the physical tools to be an excellent basketball player, but not the experience.Beckley would often find himself out of position and get into foul trouble early in games. Obviously, he can’t do much from the bench with three fouls in the second quarter.

Beckley has played a lot of basketball in the offseason, picking up bonus miles in tournaments in Kansas, Las Vegas and Los Angeles among other stops. “I think a lot of my problem last year was getting too frustrated,” Beckley said. “Playing a lot more, you get experience and you get the feel of the game more. If the guy’s got position on you, it’s not worth the foul to fight for it. That’s just experience and settling down.””The No. 1 thing for him is controlling his excitement,” Tronsrue said. “He wants to go out and prove himself. He’s really worked hard over the offseason. We need to have him keep control of himself, so he doesn’t get in foul trouble. He just needs to stand tall and make sure everyone has to shoot over him.”The perimeter gameThe second offensive key will be the guys on the outside. Small forward Derek Rush and shooting guard T.J. Montoya return. Kyle Leffler and newcomer Josh Ruark are currently splitting time at the point.Having lost to graduation Clint Wilson, Thomas Pacheco and Rogelio Loya, perimeter players who gave the Huskies balance last year, the aforementioned quartet will have to provide balance outside.

“Hopefully, we can shoot the perimeter ball to balance the inside,” Tronsrue said. “Defenses will be sagging and playing zone against us. We need to have all the guards – Derek, T.J., Kyle and Josh – be able to hit perimeter shots. If we can do that, then we’ll have a nice inside-outside balance.”Lest it be forgotten, defense is critical, too.”We’re going to run a zone press,” Tronsrue said. “We’ll go to full-court man press. We’re going to play hard half-court man defense. We’re going to get after them.”Rounding out the varsity squad are Clay Wilson, Gustavo Bronfield, Clark Simmons, Joe Ortega, D.J. Vancuren, Zac Adamson, Andrew Martinez and Emmanuel VilledaThe scheduleThe Huskies are 1-1 after beating Roaring Fork, 46-42, and losing to 4A No. 1 D’Evelyn, 75-45. This weekend, the Huskies are at the Wolf Creek Classic at Pagosa Springs. Friday at 4:45 p.m., the Huskies have Aztec, N.M., followed by Gunnison Saturday at 10 a.m. There will be a third game later Saturday depending on the results of the first two contests.

The home opener is Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. against Aspen. League play starts Jan. 6 at Glenwood Springs, a team Tronsrue expects to be a league contender. Jan. 7 is the league home opener against Rifle. The Bears will be another hurdle for Battle Mountain. The Huskies haven’t beaten Rifle since moving up to 4A.The Huskies are at Gypsum Jan. 10 for the first of two battles with Eagle Valley. The Devils come calling in Eagle-Vail Feb. 3. No pep talks will be needed for either team.Steamboat Springs, Battle Mountain’s traditional measuring stick in all sports, comes to town Jan. 14. The Huskies visit the Sailors Feb. 11.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14630 or, Colorado

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