Second-year Notre Dame Prep head coach Kyle Diemer said before a tournament game last week that he’s never experienced anything like it.
He was talking about the plethora of injuries suffered by players on his team leading up to this week’s season opener. The result is two, and possibly three, projected starters missing this week’s game versus Goldwater and beyond, including sophomore Griffin Bryant, the Saints’ leading scorer and rebounder from a year ago.
Despite the loss of a number of players expected to contribute this season, Diemer and the Saints’ players remain optimistic.
“Our sophomore class is very talented and we’re lucky to have four or five of those guys at the varsity level,” Diemer told Sports360AZ. “Our junior class is really talented as well and the seniors bring a lot of leadership and consistent composure that we need to do well.”
“We’re excited to see how the sophomore and junior classes really grow over the next couple of years.”
There’s no doubt the future is bright, but for seniors like team captain Jeff Douglas, the present has a chance to be pretty good, too. He’s encouraged by a second season with Diemer leading the way and, of course, the much ballyhooed underclassmen.
“Having a new coach for the first year is always difficult to trust him,” Douglas said. “I feel like this year we have all of faith in him and he can help us win.”
“They have a bunch of heart and they’re good,” he said about the younger Saints’ players. “Most of them are good scorers.”
Putting points on the scoreboard is always important, but the Saints know the keys to success lie in other areas.
“Rebounding and defensive transition,” answered junior point guard Joey Jaquint, when asked to name a couple of things his team must do to have success. “That’s what we have to do every game.”
The Saints will get most of their missing players back as the season progresses. Only Michael Liborio, a sophomore, is out for the year and Bryant is expected back at some point in January. Two others will return within the next couple of weeks.
Perhaps with a few strong performances from some inexperienced players, playing with passion and commitment, and a little divine intervention – hey, they’re at the right place – the Saints can fill the glass up by season’s end.