Almost every attribute that makes up a great basketball player can be taught.
Shooting, passing and rebounding, along with many others, are all skills that can be taught and honed.
There is one crucial aspect, however, that can’t be taught — height.
It’s too early in the season yet to see which teams can shoot, pass and rebound well, but it’s not too early to see which team has height. Coming off a 1-21 season, the York Suburban boys’ basketball team is likely the tallest team in the York-Adams League, and the Trojans hope their height can propel them to Division II relevance.
“This is probably the tallest team that we’ve ever put out on the court,” Suburban head coach Tom Triggs said. “Last year, we were very young and very inexperienced. I think there’s a level of confidence based upon the amount of time a lot of the guys put in during the offseason. This team has the potential to be very good this year as the season progresses.”
All five of the Trojans’ starters are taller than 6-feet, 2-inches, with the average starter standing at 6-4. Their frontcourt includes Alex Fuhrman and Aidan Hughley, who are 6-7 and 6-5, respectively.
“I think we showed on Friday (in a win vs. Solanco) that we can block shots with our height,” said senior Luke Babinchak. “It’s also a huge help with rebounding and on defense.”
Young squad: The Trojans lost only one senior to graduation from last year’s 1-21 squad, returning starters Anthony Brown, Babinchak, Hughley and Fuhrman, who had eight blocks vs. Solanco. Triggs said Babinchak and Fuhrman are two of three seniors who will see time on the junior-laden squad, while Hughley is one of three underclassmen who will see the floor.
Babinchak said the team leaders worked this past offseason to “change the culture” surrounding the struggling program.
“We can’t be going around with a (bad) attitude,” Babinchak said. “We needed a winning attitude. I think we’ve kind of changed that culture and have the mindset that we are going to take it.”
“We can’t let that happen again,” Hughley said about last season. “We’re all going to be playing together for a while. We’re really tight, and the chemistry is going up.
Start to 2018-19 campaign: Suburban is 1-1 on the young season, defeating Solanco 63-52 in its opening game last Friday and losing to West York 45-37 a day later.
“I think West York really respects us now,” Triggs said. “I am anxious to play them again. We play them in another week. We shot so poorly inside. I can’t imagine us shooting that poorly again.”
Zone defense: Triggs is employing a zone defense this season, a rarity from his typical style in 20 years of coaching, to take advantage of his team’s height. Triggs coached at Suburban between the 1998-99 season and the 2011-12 campaign, accumulating a 218-120 record in that time, before resigning and then coming back in 2016-17.
“I’m not a zone guy,” Triggs said. “I’ve played man-to-man all my years of coaching, but we’ve gone to zone to take advantage of the abilities of our guys.”
Triggs said the team will mainly play a 3-2 zone, but he will occasionally throw in a 1-2-2 press and a 2-3.
“When we play our zone and we have our hands out and up, it looks like we’re covering the entire court,” Babinchak said.
Key players: Joining Fuhrman’s shot-blocking presence down low is Hughley, who Triggs said has an “unlimited” ceiling as a sophomore.
“I tell him he can be the best player on the court every night,” Triggs said. “He can be one of the premier post players in the league. He has all the moves inside.”
As one of the team’s leaders, Triggs said Babinchak will have more success as a shooter this season if his teammates around him present opposing defenses as scoring threats.
“He’s probably one of the best pure shooters in the league,” Triggs said.
The Trojans have two newcomers in the backcourt in freshman Camden Brewer, who scored 10 points off the bench in the win over Solanco, and sophomore starter Alon Gorham, a 6-2 transfer from York Country Day.
“Every time (Alon) is on the court, he’s one of the two fastest guys,” Triggs said “Alon’s potential is through the roof. … Alon and Camden over the next three years are going to just blossom at the guard position.”
Joining Brewer off the bench are Andrew Schultz, Devante Embrey-Banks and Cedric Walker, a senior guard who Triggs said is “arguably” the team’s best player and could find his way into the starting lineup.
The Trojans will play again on Wednesday when they host Biglerville before preparing for a pair of Division II match-ups next week against Eastern York and West York.
“I think people are going to think that this is just a 1-21 team,” Babinchak said. “We’ve got some skill and some talent. I think we’ll definitely surprise some people.”
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org