The first official day of boys basketball competition is today.
Taking a look at the upcoming season, there are too many storylines to list and so many more that haven't materialized yet. Just for fun and in no particular order, here are a few things I'm looking forward to watching play out over the course of the 2015-16 season.
Also, take a look at the BoCoPreps.com season preview capsules if you would like to brush up on each team's outlook in greater depth. Of course it's only Dec. 1 and we'll all have a better idea of who's doing what by the holiday break. But hey, I'm excited.
Happy hooping! ...
LONGMONT GIVES IT ANOTHER GO
Going undefeated all the way up to the Class 4A state championship game, the Trojans looked every bit the favorite to win it all last season. In one of the best title games in recent memory, the Trojans fell 64-59 in overtime to Air Academy. It was a tough pill to swallow for the Trojans but they return a solid core of players from last year's team, including Boise State commit Justinian Jessup, and enter the season as the preseason No. 1 in 4A.
FRANK RYDER RETURNS TO FAIRVIEW
It was a tough season for the Knights last year but reinforcements have arrived. A 6-foot-10 center, Frank Ryder has spent the past few years developing his game at the ultra-exclusive IMG Academy in Florida. He has returned home to his native Boulder and will finish his prep career at Fairview, where he played freshman basketball.
CHANGES TO DEFENSIVE RULES
New guidelines have identified specific actions that are to be ruled as fouls when applied on a ball handler, including: 1. Placing two hands on the player; 2. Placing an extending arm bar on the player; 3. Placing and keeping a hand on the player; 4. Contacting the player more than once with the same hand or alternating hands. I've heard that referees will be focused on calling these things this season and many of the coaches I talked to think it will have a significant impact on the way the game is played in 2015-16.
NEW FACES & FAMILIAR FACES IN NEW PLACES
Of the 22 varsity teams in the BoCoPreps.com coverage area, nine of them will have new head coaches -- Boulder (Jack Clarke), Centaurus (Travis Maron), Dawson (Chris Mischke), Erie (Scott Melin), Fairview (Patrick Burke), Frederick (Enoch Miller), Niwot (Preston Hardy), Peak to Peak (Matthew Smith) and Skyline (Tyler Cerveny). Many of these new coaches have coached in the area before. Maron and Miller, for example, have both been head coaches at Niwot in the past three years.
MEAD LOOKS TO CRACK THE BRACKET
The Mavericks won 15 games last season, finished third in the Tri-Valley League and believed themselves to be worthy of an at-large spot in the 4A state tournament bracket. The selection committee felt otherwise. "We have talked about it a lot," Mavericks head coach Darin Reese said. "But we put ourselves in that spot by dropping a couple games that we probably shouldn't have." With a good group including guard Walker Korell returning, the Mavericks are out to lock up a bid as quickly as possible this season.
MONARCH'S NIVEN TO HANG UP THE WHISTLE
After nearly 20 years coaching the Monarch boys basketball team, veteran coach Ken Niven has made it official that this will be his final season coaching the Coyotes. The area's second longest tenured coach (Jeff Kloster is in his 22nd year at Longmont) also said he intends to depart from his traditional scheme and have the Coyotes play a more up-tempo style of basketball this year.
WITH HELBIG OUT, TRI-VALLEY LANDSCAPE COULD CHANGE
The Holy Family Tigers won the 4A Tri-Valley League championship in 2014-15, in large part because they had Chris Helbig, one of the state's best basketball players. Also the quarterback of the football team, Helbig was on pace to shatter the all-time passing yards record for a single season before he injured his knee. The Tigers' top player will miss the entire 2015-16 basketball season.
A LOOK AT THE EARLY RANKINGS
Longmont (first in 4A) and Jefferson Academy (seventh in 3A) were the only BoCoPreps.com area teams listed in the top 10 of their respective classifications by the CHSAANow.com preseason poll. Boulder, which went 19-7 last season, received votes in 5A. Holy Family and Mead received votes in 4A. Shining Mountain, which appeared in the 2013 1A championship game, received votes in 1A.