St. Genevieve High might have the most talented team in the Santa Fe League this season, but Bell-Jeff is expected to challenge for the title with an exciting and entertaining offense.
With no player taller than 6-2, Bell-Jeff's moniker, the Guards, is appropriate.
"We're not big, but we do have good quickness and we can shoot the three-pointer," 10th-year Coach Joe Dunn said. "We should be a fun team to watch."
Greg Dunn (6-0), the coach's son, Nick Sanderson (6-2) and Chris Dyer (6-1), all returning starters, are the Guards' three designated-bombardiers.
If opposing teams stuff the middle to shut down Bell-Jeff's inside game, Dunn, Sanderson and Dyer won't hesitate to fire from long range.
Dyer, a first-team all-league guard last season, averaged 10.9 points a game, Sanderson averaged 10.1 and Dunn chipped in with 7.1.
"They're all capable of hitting 50% from the three-point line," Joe Dunn said. "We won't be afraid to pull up on the break and take that shot."
The other two starters for Bell-Jeff will be Henry Polee (6-0) and Matt Corse (5-11).
Polee, an excellent leaper, is the cousin of Dwayne Polee, the former Manual Arts High and Pepperdine standout. He is one of only two seniors on the team.
Dunn's biggest concern is Polee's and Sanderson's concentration.
"I need them to play at an all-out level when they're in the game," Dunn said. "They both have a tendency to pace themselves, which we don't want in our offense."
Dunn, who has an uncommonly strong bench, feels there is no need for Bell-Jeff's players to play at only 90% of their capabilities.
"We've got 10 guys who are going to see a lot of time this season," Dunn said. "When a player gets tired, we'll just sub for him."
David Bowman (6-0), Ray Witt (6-0) and Mike Cesta (5-10) will lead the Guards' reinforcements.
Cesta is the only Guard with any bulk at 185 pounds. The rest of his teammates, who are in the 150- to 160-pound range, rely on speed and quickness.
"We've got some greyhounds," Dunn said with a laugh, "but they're small greyhounds."
Though Dunn is optimistic about his run-and-gun offense, he knows that defense ultimately will determine Bell-Jeff's success.
The Guards' quickness will be a defensive asset, but their lack of height could prove to be detrimental.
"I'm 6-2," Dunn said. "And when I'm in the huddle and can see the top of most kids' heads, I know we're small."
Small, quick and entertaining.
COACH: Dave Hoffman, first year
LAST SEASON: 11-11; fifth in league, 7-7
THIS SEASON: After coaching the Chaminade junior varsity to three league titles in the past four seasons, Hoffman expects the St. Genevieve varsity to contend for the league title. "We could win it, but we could also finish fourth," Hoffman said. "This league is so balanced that a team could lose three league games and still win the title." With three returning starters, Ruben Aguirre, Mike Walker and Chad Russell, and a deep bench, Hoffman's optimism is understandable. Aguirre (6-1), an all-league guard, scored 13.1 points per game last season and forward Walker (6-2) grabbed 7.9 rebounds per game. Point guard Mike Cassidy (5-8), the son of Cal State Northridge Coach Pete Cassidy, and forward Mark Colon (6-1) are expected to complete the starting lineup. Chris Fregeau (6-5) and Ronny Nielsen (6-4, 205) give St. Genevieve good height and bulk off the bench. Roland De La Maza, Dominic Mueller and Dara Kargari also will see plenty of playing time in Hoffman's equal-opportunity offense. "We won't have one dominant scorer," Hoffman said. "We'll probably have six or seven leading scorers during the course of the season."
COACH: Joe Dunn, 10th year
LAST SEASON: 13-10, fourth in league, 8-6
THIS SEASON: With three starters returning from last season, Bell-Jeff not only has one of the most experienced teams in the league but one of the quickest and most entertaining. "We'll be fun to watch," Dunn said. "We'll basically have five guards in our starting lineup. Every one of our starters will be able to handle the ball and three of them shoot it very well from outside." Chris Dyer (6-1), Nick Sanderson (6-2) and Greg Dunn (6-0), the coach's son, all started as sophomores last season and all can hit the three-pointer. "That'll definitely be part of our offense," Dunn said. "We're capable of hitting 50% of our shots from that range. If teams give it to us, we're going to take it." Junior Matt Corse (5-11) and senior Henry Polee (6-0) complete the starting team. Bell-Jeff's bench might be its strongest asset as Dunn plans to use 10 of his 13 players regularly. "We plan to run and press as often as possible," he said. "You need fresh bodies to do that." Juniors David Bowman (6-0), Ray Witt (6-0) and Mike Cesta (5-10) will lead the reinforcements.
COACH: Mike Lynn, seventh year
LAST SEASON: 17-8; tied for first in league, 12-2