The Fairfield Lions varsity boys basketball team will open their season on Friday, December 1 when they travel to Manchester to take on the Southern Hills Athletic Conference (SHAC) rival Greyhounds.
The team will have a new face on the sidelines this fall as Josh Howland takes over for local coaching legend Everett Snyder on the Lions’ sideline.
The squad will feature three seniors that are expected to lead the team and make the transition smooth for Howland.
Howland was previously the head coach of the junior varsity team at Fairfield and will be making his first appearance as a head coach on the varsity level.
Howland was unsure what to expect being the head coach of the Lions, “In the summer I have some kids that play other sports and I won’t see them. One kid I oly saw one time all summer but, he has come back strong. That is a pleasant surprise. These kids work super hard, they are all hard workers. If this gym is open they are in here working.”
After losing several players to graduation from the 2016-2017 team Howland finds himself in the unique position of moving to the varsity level at the same time as some of his players.
“They know my expectations and I know what it takes to motivate them and prevent them from shutting down on me. All of these guys are motivated, they want to win,” Howland said.
The biggest obstacle to the teams success this year, according to Howland, is to get the plethora of new faces accustomed to the speed of the varsity game.
“Transitioning from JV to varsity is going to be our biggest issue. Since we are trying to transition seven or eight players to the varsity game. We waste a half step here and a half step there and it costs us buckets at the other end. That’s the most difficult thing for us to overcome,” said Howland.
Howland indicated that defense would be a major focus for the Lions this season as they adjust to the varsity game offensively.
Howland said, “We will look to pressure the ball. We have the personnel to do it, our bigs are small.”
After losing four starters off of last seasons 17-7 squad Howland opens the season in search of some offensive production, “We lost four of the top scorers in the county. Scoring is going to be by committee. We have high expectations for Cody Gragg from that standpoint.”
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.