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Sandusky older, wiser heading into 2010-11 season

Mark Hazelwood • May 12, 2015 at 5:32 PM

In any avenue of a profession, including sports, experience is seen as a premium.

For the first time in coach Steve Keller's five years, the Sandusky basketball team finally has a wealth of experience.

That could lead to key depth in the 2010-11 season as nine letterwinners who averaged about 47 points per game last season return. Seven of the nine returnees are seniors.

"We've progressed after a few small senior classes to a large junior and senior class setting," Keller said. "There were quite a few young men that tried out for the team and are returning back.

"Our focus with this group is to get better on the defensive end and to play better together offensively."

Seniors Cordney Strickland and Jay Page both return as double-digit scorers for the Blue Streaks as Strickland brings back 14.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game. Page returns 12.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.8 steals per game.

Juniors Tristen Jeffries (7.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and Dameyion Smith (4.2 ppg) also return along with seniors Jaron Green (3.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg), Delan Roldan-Johnson (2.2 ppg), Dominic Will (1.4 ppg) and Devonte Turner (0.7 ppg).

Also back at some point will be senior Donald Williams, who averaged 7.2 points and 4.5 rebounds two years ago as a sophomore. Williams tore his ACL in the preseason a year ago and missed the entire season. Cartilage damage to his knee will keep him out until sometime in early January this season, Keller said.

New additions this season looking to contribute include seniors Kedran Alexander and Dejour Stovall, and juniors Lucas Poggiali, Jalen Gordon and Vanuel Williams.

Several of the key returners were integral parts to the Blue Streak football team's first winning season in 10 years and first playoff appearance in 20 years. That has led to a 10-day setback to start the season, and the regularly scheduled season opener Friday at Toledo Waite has been pushed back.

Instead, Sandusky will open with its final trip to Napoleon on Dec. 10.

"We're getting back into the flow of basketball after our football guys had a tremendous season," Keller said. "The more time we get in the gym and development in a team setting is getting us back and accustomed to basketball.

"Those guys have done a nice job of working hard, staying positive and working through the rust."

Sandusky went ahead with its preseason preview that included Perkins, Edison, Lakewood, Bellevue and St. Mary Central Catholic despite being a bit behind.

"We're looking to transfer our practice setting to a game setting," Keller said. "We need to transfer the repetition that will occur both on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.

"Some things we need to improve is our defense, rebounding better and just the general coming together as a basketball team."

While finishing with a 6-15 record (3-7 in the Greater Buckeye Conference) a year ago, Sandusky lost seven games by five points or less -- including three 4-point losses to a 19-win Marion Harding.

In the 2008-09 season, Sandusky went 4-17 and lost five games by four points or less.

"Our emphasis every year, and very much so this year, is working on the attention to details," Keller said. "The urgency to a first quarter play needs to be the same as a play in the last two minutes.

"As coaches, we're blessed to work with some quality young men who are doing a nice job of working hard and taking constructive criticism to get better."

Keller said the program's goal is to make better players, good teams and better people as well.

"We're interested in doing all three," he said. "We have as much of an improvement on the personal side in our program as we do the basketball side, and it's very important we try to improve young men in every facet of their life."

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