NEGAUNEE - After reaching the MHSAA state Class C semifinals last season and with the reigning Upper Peninsula Class ABC Player of the Year back, Negaunee High School's boys basketball team would seem to be a sure bet for another banner season.
That may turn out to be true, but Miners' head coach Mike O'Donnell doesn't want to think about that now.
"There's a sour taste in our mouths that we got knocked out last year," O'Donnell said of his 2013-14 squad. "But I don't want to get that far ahead. We don't want to set the bar that high at this point of the season.
Looking to make it back to the Class C state semifinal — or beyond to the championship game — are members of the 2013-14 Negaunee High School boys basketball team. Team members entering the season are, in the front row from left, Michael Hemmila, Robert Loy, Eric Lori, Tyler Jandron and Jay Lori. Back row: trainer Matt Jasketic, volunteer assistant coach Brandon Cory, Doug Lindblom, Logan Streeter, Zane Radloff, Michael Anderson, Tyler Windahl and head coach Mike O’Donnell. (Photo courtesy Dale Rogers)
"I know it's a cliche, but we have to concentrate on how we're playing at the present and build toward (the postseason in) March."
The Miners, coming off a 24-2 overall record, captured Mid-Peninsula Conference (12-0), district, regional and quarterfinal titles before falling to Laingsburg in the semis, 45-43.
"We're going to be athletic (this season)," O'Donnell said. "We like to get out on the fast break and push the ball down the floor.
Negaunee boys 2013-14 schedule
Dec. 10 - Escanaba, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 13 - at Superior Central, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 17 - at Kingsford, 8 p.m.
Dec. 19 - Marquette, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 27 - Manistique, 6 p.m.
Jan. 2 - at Escanaba, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 8 - Ishpeming, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 10 - L'Anse, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 16 - at Norway, 8 p.m.
Jan. 21 - Iron Mountain, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 24 - at Manistique, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 30 - Gwinn, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 5 - Westwood, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 7 - at Ishpeming, 7:45 p.m.
Feb. 11 - Gladstone, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 13 - at Marquette, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 19 - at Westwood, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 21 - Norway, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 25 - at Iron Mountain, 7:45 p.m.
Feb. 27 - at Gwinn, 7:30 p.m.
"We also have the defensive ability to put full court pressure on teams and to change defenses."
Tyler Jandron (6-1 senior) will be back at point guard after being named the No. 1 player in both the M-PC and Class ABC in the U.P.
He averaged 17.5 points, sank 54.8 percent of his two-point shots, 75.8 percent of his free throw attempts, and recorded 4.3 steals and 3.8 assists a gam, last season.
"Obviously, his accolades last season speak for themselves," O'Donnell said. "But he does so many little things that don't show up on a stat sheet - deflecting balls, his passing ability, his court sense and presence on the floor.
"He'll have a target on his back; people will come after him. He'll be challenged every night out, but he's mentally tough and learned how to respond to those challenges last year."
At shooting guard will be Eric Lori (5-10 senior), who averaged 13.4 points in 2012-13.
"His strong point is shooting," said O'Donnell, entering his ninth year at the NHS helm. "But one area in which he has grown is his all-around game. His defense has come a long way."
Zane Radloff (6-5 senior) will be in the post. He averaged 4.5 points and 3.0 rebounds a game last season in a reserve role.
"He can jump out of a gym," O'Donnell said. "He's so quick out on the floor, too. He understood his role and how to fit into our offense."
Jay Lori (6-2 sophomore) - Eric's brother - will likely be at power forward with Rob Loy (6-1 junior) on the wing.
"Jay's from the junior varsity and has a big, strong body," O'Donnell said. "Rob is a great shooter and can offer some scoring punch for us."
Tyler Windahl (6-1 senior) at forward, and guards Mike Anderson (6-0 senior) and Mike Hemmila (5-8 senior) will be O'Donnell's first options off the bench.