During his run to the Division II Finals last season, Gilmour used multiple players and attacking styles to push into Dayton. Three of those key pieces are back this season in Brandon Rose, Adisa Molton and Dorjan Flowers.
However, the Lancers face the difficult task of finding ways to replace key players in two facets of their game. The first is their height on the inside.
While no one comes close to pairing Nathan Nootbaar and Ryan Mueller, who were 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-6 respectively, the Lancers saw Brandon Rose get involved on the boards a season ago.
The second is in their 3 point shooting ability as two strong shooters in Mueller and Nathan Flaherty are gone. Gilmour coach Dan DeCrane knows that while his team can’t replace size, they also have different skills than they had a season ago.
“Every year is different, like chapters in a book,” DeCrane said. “We have a completely different focus this season. We have to reinvent ourselves somehow, we have a lot of young players who have skills and a lot of early opportunities. We prepare our players on their way and this is a good challenge for them. We see a lot of different competitors, especially early on in our schedule.”
While he’s the returning lead rebounder, not all of the load on the boards will be on Rose’s shoulders. Instead, the Lancers will adopt a rebound-by-committee system that allows for games where Rose can sit in both midfield and deep.
Rose has made it a point to keep improving on the boards as well, doing extra reps during practice and competing against anyone and everyone during Lancers scrimmages.
“Every day in practice we work a lot on the rebound drills against the JV or even against some of the other varsity guys,” said Rose. “It helps everyone get a lot tougher but also learn how to read the ball coming off the rim. We are all counted on for rebounds and being able to simulate that in training will be a huge help next season.”
While Rose can contribute in both the scoring aspect of the game and the glass, having Molton and Flowers back in the herd is also a plus. While DeCrane is happy to have multiple votes on the floor, he’s also hoping for a big jump from Flowers.
In the run-up to the season, he has seen Flowers continue to improve on both sides of the ball. One position he expects to improve the most from is as a goalscorer, having averaged 6.6 points per game last season.
DeCrane has seen Flowers become a strong option for the Lancers as their two guards and knows he’ll get his share of chances.
“He’s probably one of the best athletes in the school,” DeCrane said. “He can do a little bit of everything for us. His goal-scoring skills will increase along with his scoring chances and he can play for us at both ends of the floor. He can influence every possession. Brandon can score on all three levels, Adisa has also become even more of a coach on the floor to help everyone.”
Outside of this trio, there’s a bevy of new faces on the Gilmour bench. Only two players, David Pfundstein and Jackson Wahl, saw minutes a season ago.
With all the new faces, both DeCrane and the returnees knew they had to find a rhythm as soon as possible. They made capital as soon as scrimmages could be planned and went against Brecksville and Richmond Heights.
“The entire preseason coach had us doing a lot of open gyms and lifting sessions,” Rose said. “We also compete against strong teams and that has helped us to get much closer together as a team. This allowed us to get to know each other both on a sporting and a personal level and we are looking forward to the first game of the season.”
In addition to a nearly brand new bench, Gilmour also has two new members on the starting lineup in sophomore Zac Titas and junior Jimmy Lawless. Both offer strong skills to the Lancers, but have had little to no experience against University talent.
With the two new parts, DeCrane knew that getting them used to much larger roles was a high priority this season and made sure that was a focus once coaches were able to engage with players.
“Zach saw a short streak in our tournament run last year,” DeCrane said. “He’s 6ft 2 and he’s a really good shooter. He’s also capable of getting the ball inside and that ability to do both will be big for us this season. Jimmy can offer us a great catch-and-shoot threat, much like Nathan Flaherty did last year. The only difference is that it’s smaller but also slightly faster. The leadership of these three is unparalleled. It’s not often that you have three players in your backcourt who have four years of varsity experience. But they don’t wear that to show what they’ve done, their voice and can lead by example.”
The Lancers begin their season as part of the Cleveland Classic event, taking place Nov. 27 in Baldwin-Wallace. They meet Toledo St. John’s at 3:30pm