By winning out, the Cougars would have earned the High Desert League’s No. 3 seed. Instead, they lost out on the postseason by dropping those three contests.
The disappointment of last season’s end is still prevalent in the locker room heading into this winter campaign.
While SSHS boys basketball coach Kyle Penney said there’s no comparison between last season and this season’s team due to an improvement in team chemistry, there is still some frustration due to the learning process.
“Our learning curve is pretty high right now because we have a lot of new faces,” Penney said. “There are only a couple kids who know everything from previous years, so we’re re-teaching the majority of them. It’s a slow process. I like the kids. They’re good listeners. We just have some issues that need to be fixed.
“The tough part about high school basketball is getting the kids to play at a high level every night. It’s too easy for kids at this level to overlook opponents. They just think they can do things, and that doesn’t fit my personality. I want perfection. I don’t care who we’re playing. I want effort and I want kids to be doing the right thing all the time.”
Spanish Springs brings back returners Ryan Swanson, Tyler Givani, Brandon Delong, Sean Shamrock and Trent Flowers. However, Shamrock and Flowers might not provide much to the team due to MCL injuries.
The Cougars are still in the process of building their basketball program. Penney said there has been a lot of turnover in the lower level coaching ranks before this year and that has made it hard to have each level stay on the same page. He also said that the younger players need to commit more to basketball in the offseason instead of making excuses.
Penney said the team worked on more motion sets during the summer because he didn’t expect to have much height on the team. But with the addition of transfers of Phil (6-foot-8) and Brian (6-foot-7) Smith, the Cougars now have more flexibility. Penney said the team will run the same sets it has been running since he took over but will mix in some motion offense as well.
Penney is also pleased with the size of his guards and how well they can handle the ball and shoot. He likes the combination of guards and big men, but the team’s success will come down to if the kids want it bad enough and if the coaching staff can get them to where they need to be.
Penney expects Swanson and Delong to have big seasons for the Purple and White. He also hopes that the early-season struggles will be turned around in order to turn the Cougs into a playoff caliber team.
“Last year I said the same thing. We were there but those last three games we gave up,” Penney said. “Looking at our team I think we could be (a playoff team), but a lot of things have to fall into place for that to happen.”
Spanish Springs doesn’t have much time to right itself with the season opener Tuesday night at Wooster. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.