There is change at the top at Carroll.
For the first time since 2005, someone other than Marty Beasley will be patrolling the sidelines for the Chargers.
To replace the man with 323 career wins and five sectional titles during his tenure, Carroll hired Ryan Abbott, who himself had a fair amount of success in close to a decade at Eastside.
But can Abbott deliver the kind of success that Chargers fans have grown accustomed to? After all, Carroll has finished with 13 or more wins in each of the last eight campaigns.
Abbott and the Chargers’ path to a ninth straight 13-plus win season will hinge on a wealth of new faces. Graduation gutted the roster as Sam Stryker, Ryan Preston, Cody Burkey and Zach Castator are all gone. Add in the transfer of senior Jalen Jackson to Northrop (where his mom now coaches the girls’ basketball team) and the top five scorers from a year ago are all gone.
That immediately makes things difficult in a league in which the top teams all return a healthy amount of talent.
“We are looking to reload this year,” Abbott said. “We will have a mix of classes contributing in our lineup. What we lack in experience, we hope to make up for in work ethic and unselfishness.”
A trio of seniors will be leaned upon to carry the leadership load and step up in production as well. Logan Lankenau averaged three points and 1.7 rebounds a season ago. He will be joined in the post by center AJ Bane (0.9 ppg, 0.5 rpg) and forward Keegan Rhoad (0.2 ppg, 0.5 ppg).
In the backcourt, junior Charlie Rudolph ascends to the top of the lineup and will be counted upon to do a lot in terms of taking command of the offense and adding some scoring punch.
Newcomers are plentiful and will need to acclimate themselves quickly to varsity hoops. Junior Andrew Sinish as well as sophomores Jaxon Pardon, Hansen Haffner and Cannen Houser. All four are guards and will need to step up as just 18 of the team’s 136 made three-pointers from last season are back.
But while the offense has a multitude of questions, Carroll’s success over the last decade-plus has been on the back of its tenacious defense. Beasley’s ability to get kids to commit to on-ball defense was exceptional. Abbott will look to echo that and pin his team’s success on that as well.
“We have a good group that is looking to prove themselves on a daily basis,” Abbott said.
After finishing in the top two of the SAC in each of the past four seasons, Carroll has made itself a regular contender for the league championship. Even with Beasley gone, there is enough tradition and talent in the pipeline to believe that things won’t drop too far under new coach Ryan Abbott.
This is still a program that grows from within, with developmental players coming up through the middle schools and into the high school realm. That familiarity and continuity gives Carroll the advantage over the majority of the rest of the teams in the SAC.
WHY NOT HIGHER?
The attrition rate between graduation and transfer is alarming. The Chargers lost close to 88 percent of its scoring from a year ago. Couple that with a new coach and Carroll may need some time to find itself in the first half of the season as new scorers emerge and Coach Abbott gets a feel for his team as well as the SAC.
Expectations are still high, but it may be a bit until the Chargers are firing on all cylinders.
JAN. 11 AT DEKALB
Coach Marty Beasley shocked a lot of people when he left the environs of Carroll Fieldhouse and headed up north to DeKalb, a program that has not won a sectional title in 16 years. But when you look behind the scenes, Beasley’s move makes a lot of sense at this point in his career.
But the Chargers don’t want to slip up against their former coach. In the thick of winter, the two will collide up at DeKalb.
Can Coach Abbott and Carroll show Beasley that the program is still humming along?
CHARLIE RUDOLPH, JUNIOR
With loads of inexperience abound, Carroll desperately needs someone to step up and be a floor general. One thing that Beasley-coached teams did so well is communicate on the floor. Coach Abbott will definitely want that to continue, but who has the initiative to step up despite not having much experience?
Rudolph can be that guy. His offense will no doubt be a key, but his ability to command the huddle and be “that guy” the Chargers look to on the floor in all situations will go a long way towards this team maturing at a rapid rate.