By David Pan/Lynnwood Today editor
It’s going to be an uphill battle for the Lynnwood boys basketball team this season.
Coming off a tough year in which the Royals won only one league game and two games overall, Lynnwood returns only one starter and two varsity players. The Royals lost eight seniors from last year’s team.
Still second-year coach Michael Richards is feeling upbeat, especially since all the players have a year’s experience with him and his staff.
“It makes a ton of difference, having a full year in the offseason,” Richards said. “I think the players understand what I want more. I understand what they can give and not give. We definitely have a better basketball relationship.”
The team attended the Western Washington basketball camp, played a lot of hoops in the gym and competed in Seattle Pacific weekend tournaments.
“We’re definitely building a better foundation,” Richards said. “I think the kids are starting to like what we’re doing and are buying in.”
Senior Cordell Smith is the lone returning starter at point guard. Richards expects him to boost his scoring output this year.
“It’ll be good to have him coming back,” Richards said. “He’s a pretty good defender and will be able to facilitate things on the court. I am expecting him to score.”
Also back is junior wing Tyler McArthur, a cross country and track athlete.
“He’s pretty athletic,” Richards said. “He’s somebody who’s going to have to lead by example and be vocal at times.”
The arrival of so many new varsity players might actually work to the Royals’ advantage, according to McArthur.
“A lot of teams don’t know what we have,” he said.
Though the 2-18 overall record might not look good, Lynnwood had some close games that could have gone the other way.
“We’d usually be in the game in the first half and lose it in the second half,” McArthur said. “We need to push through in the second half.”
Beyond Smith and McArthur, Richards hasn’t settled on which players will see the majority of playing time. While the rest of the squad lacks varsity experience, they aren’t really young in terms of age. Lynnwood’s roster includes eight seniors and two three juniors.
“It’s a matter of going to the first game and checking it out,” Richards said.
Even with a 6-foot-8 player, the Royals don’t have much height with the rest of the team 6-2 or shorter.
“We’ve got to play fast,” Richards said. “We’ve got to press a lot and get the ball up the court. We’re going to have a pressure defense. We’re going to have to have good fundamental defense and block out on every single shot. We’re going to have to limit people to one shot.
Lynnwood’s competition in the Wesco 4A South Division is stiff with the likes of 4A state runner-up Jackson and an up-and-coming Edmonds-Woodway team.
“We just want to have good success,” McArthur said. “We want to be in a lot of games and to compete well.”