High school coaches regularly deal with the need to replenish their teams each year as players are lost to graduation, but rarely do they find themselves in a position of replacing an entire starting lineup.
After finishing 8-7 in the Central California Conference and advancing to the post-season a year ago, Pitman High’s boys basketball team and head coach Harvey Marable find themselves in such a situation. With 12 players gone from their 2011 squad, the Pride are back on the court in 2012 with more than a few fresh faces, giving Pitman an added challenge to the already difficult field of the CCC.
“It’s about not being afraid to start at the beginning and start all over,” Marable said. “Sometimes we’re going to look really good and sometimes we’re going to revert to looking like youngsters playing.”
Thankfully for Pitman, Marable has been in this position before. Four years ago he lost his senior leadership and was forced to meld a new lineup out of young and raw junior and sophomore talent. Marable was able to rebuild his team then and he’s doing the same now, relying on his years of experience as a coach and player and an added dash of patience.
“It’s been coming along great,” Marable said. “It’s all about being patient.”
Junior Aaron Mayfield and sophomore Branson Garcia, who combined for 34 points last season, have stepped into leadership roles on the team, providing coveted varsity experience to the young Pride lineup. Garcia played in 19 games last season as a freshman, in what was surely a contingency plan for the inevitable roster turnover, while Mayfield competed in 24 games. Pitman’s lone returners are joined by Gurvinder Uppal and Julian Carrera.
Pitman’s double edged sword of youth has provided the team with enthusiasm and energy but it has also brought with it flashes of inconsistency and inexperience. This, coupled with a lack in height, will force the Pride to change some of their tendencies on the court but Marable is confident he’ll be able to find a healthy balance.
“We’re going to fast break more than we have in the past but the scheme is going to be the same,” Marable said. “They need to realize it’s about the team and not the individual effort.”
With the Modesto Tournament and a game against Sonora High under their belts, the Pride are now gearing up for the 36th annual Godinez Tournament which starts Thursday.
“Our first goal was to win a game and we accomplished that,” Marable said. “Our second goal is to compete for the CCC title.”
Pitman faces McNair High at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Turlock High.