Springfield boys basketball coach working to ‘change the culture’ of team
SPRINGFIELD — First-year head coach Steve Shaffer said this season has been about getting the Springfield High School boys basketball program “headed into the right direction.”
“We wanted to change the culture,” he said. “We are just trying to get better every day and work on fundamentals. We want to go out there every night and play hard.”
Through Feb. 18, the Spartans were 14-6 overall and 7-5 in league play, and Shaffer said he is “extremely happy” with the progress he has seen from the team.
“We’ve really come together as a team,” he said. “With two new transfers coming in, and only two starters back from last year, the chemistry wasn’t there at first. But now, we’re developing a little team chemistry, and it’s been an enjoyable process. We’re happy with the progress so far.”
One key to the team’s success this season, Shaffer said, has been a marked improvement on defense.
“We’ve really got the kids to buy into playing good man-to-man defense,” he said. “We believe if we hold [teams] in the 50s that we have a chance to win every game. The kids have bought into that.”
The team’s two returning starters are junior guard Jake Kitchen and junior forward Shane Robinson.
“Jake plays the point for us. He’s done a decent job managing the team. He’s a good three-point shooter. He’s one of our team leaders and a guy we look to for scoring,” the coach said. “Shane is a really good defender. He’s bought into his role and he’s a key element to what we’re doing.”
The Spartans have two seniors: starting forward Jon Hariharan and guard Alex Rodrigues.
“Jon does all the things no one notices. He gets his hands on more loose balls than anybody else on our team. Usually, he draws the assignment of guarding the other team’s best offensive player,” Shaffer said. “Alex is a great kid and a good team player.”
Springfield’s starting lineup is rounded out by a pair of transfers: sophomore forward Collin Floyd and junior guard/forward Victor Dorsey.
“Collin is a coach’s dream. He does whatever you ask. He’s one of the last guys out of the gym at night. He averages about 11 points and seven or eight rebounds a game. He’s a big reason why we’ve been so successful,” the coach said. “Victor has a lot of skills. He’s averaging about 19 points and 10 rebounds a game. He’s an inside-outside guy. He can extend the defense and hit three-pointers or we can post him up in the paint. He causes match-up problems for the opposition.”
And a key contributor off the bench, Shaffer said, is junior Logan Treen.
“He’s a kid who has really progressed defensively, and he’s got some good offensive skills,” the coach said. “He’s added some depth to our bench.”
Springfield’s regular season will wrap up tonight, Feb. 22, at 7:30 p.m. at Ravenna High School.
“That will be a good game,” Shaffer said. “To beat Ravenna at their place would be a good win for us.”
The Spartans will enter the postseason with a game against Marlington High School Feb. 27 at 6:15 p.m. at the Canton Fieldhouse.
“I was an assistant varsity coach out at Louisville for the past four years, and they were one of our league rivals,” Shaffer said. “They have a really [good] program and a really good player in Lucas Strouble. He’s one of the best players in Stark County. So we’re going to have a challenge.”
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