Preview: Lancers Under New Leadership This Season< < Back to
Federal Hocking basketball is going to look much different in 2014 than it did a season ago, as the Lancers welcome two brand new head coaches to the program.
The varsity boys’ team will be under the direction of Eric Mitchell for this upcoming season, while the girls’ squad will be led by former boys assistant coach Jeremy Tolson.
Following a 13-9 overall record and a third place finish in the TVC-Hocking last season, Mitchell has a very specific goal in mind for the Lancers in his first year as the head man.
“We are definitely looking forward to being a competitor for the top spot in the Hocking,” Mitchell said.
Meanwhile, the 2013 season proved to be disappointing for the ladies of Federal Hocking. They failed to win a non-conference game before beginning play in the TVC, where they ended the regular season at 6-16.
Despite last year’s struggles, Tolson brings a fresh start and a new mindset to the team. There is no doubt that he hopes to be much more successful and get this group of girls back to their winning ways.
“I think we are improved from last year,” Tolson said. “Our expectations are to win way more than six games. I do not want to put a number on it, but we are going to be a tough opponent this year.”
As it is every year, both teams will have to find a way to replace the production of graduated seniors. The boys lost four seniors from last year’s squad but have three returning seniors and another three returning juniors to pick up the slack. Mitchell discussed his optimism with the veterans on this year’s roster, with shutdown defenders like senior guards Ivan Santiago and junior A.J. Cobb. Mitchell expressed that the Lancer’s most important asset in 2014 rests on the shoulders of senior Jonathan Snyder.
“I really believe that Jonathan has a chance to be the player of the year in this division,” Mitchell said. “He is experienced, he has good size down low and he is also able to stretch the floor with some perimeter jump shots. He is going to be the catalyst for this team this year.”
Mitchell feels that his team has the athletic ability to play with great pace on both sides of the ball. Offensively, he wants to surround Snyder with shooters on the perimeter, while also putting a large focus on pressuring the basketball on defense.
“We are going to play fast,” Mitchell said. “We are going to try to dictate the tempo of the game. Also, we are going to try to get after it defensively. It all starts on that side of the ball. Even if we have an off night offensively, I want to be able to rely on our defense.”
In addition to Federal Hocking’s potential upside, Mitchell expressed that depth could be a possible weakness for his team this year. With that in mind, they will need to be cautious as to keep themselves out of foul trouble.
On the other side of the coin, Tolson sees depth as one of the greatest strengths for the Lady Lancers this season. After parting ways with only three seniors, they will find themselves with a more experienced group.
“We’re probably eight or nine girls deep this year,” Tolson said. “We are going to have a nice rotation.”
He expects sophomore guard Destiny Tabler to step up for Federal Hocking on offense, along with a solid inside presence with senior forward Megan Thompson. Tolson also explained that some underclassmen will play a pivotal role for the team, including freshman Brittnie Jackson and sophomore Kaylie McPherson.
“We really want to play with an up-tempo pace this season,” Tolson said. “We are also trying to teach the girls that defense is the key to the game, and that will lead to a better offense.”
Tipoff for the 2014 season is right around the corner. Tolson and the Lady Lancers will begin their campaign on Nov. 29 as they host Meigs. Mitchell and the boys’ team will not get started until Dec. 5 when they will face off with Nelsonville-York.