Mental edge needed for Lake Shore boys hoops team to thrive

By: Jason Carmel Davis | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 16, 2013

ST. CLAIR SHORES — St. Clair Shores Lake Shore senior guard Marcus Barnett said he believes the Shorians have the talent to win the program’s first Macomb Area Conference division title since 1998-99.

That won’t happen, though, Barnett said, if Lake Shore players can’t keep their heads in games for the full 32 minutes.

The senior guard referenced a Dec. 20 matchup with crosstown rival St. Clair Shores South Lake where the Shorians fell behind by 20 before rallying back and ultimately falling by 10.

“We have to stay strong mentally for all four quarters,” Barnett said. “It seems like we don’t play with a lot of passion for the full game, and that has to change, if we’re going to win.”

Barnett said working a slew of new players into the rotation — the 11-man roster features just three seniors — may play a role because the players are still working on getting used to one another.

Four players return from last year’s team, according to Shorians coach Todd Stevens. Of those four, only junior forward Brandon Muraszewski saw significant action, starting every game in 2011-12. Junior guard Justin Navarra started one-third of Lake Shore’s game last season, missing the rest due to injury.

“We’ve still got some growing to do,” said Stevens, in his ninth year with the Shorians.

“Off the court, we’re all friends. We hang out and everything,” Muraszewski said. “On the court, we need to make sure we come out strong every night and keep it up for the whole game.”

The team has more size than in recent years, according to Stevens. Junior center Hunter Holcomb checks in at 6 feet 7 inches. Sophomore forward/center Will Bobek stands 6 feet 6 inches. Two other Lake Shore players stand at least 6-feet tall.

“We have size, but we’re still really athletic,” said Stevens, whose team sat at 2-5, 0-2 in the MAC Silver at press time. “We have big guys, but they’re not the big bruisers. We can still get up and down the floor.”

That’s Stevens’ focus on offense — getting out in transition. He said having players who play other sports, such as soccer and football, keep them in condition to run a fast-paced attack.

Stevens employs several defensive looks — man and zone — to prevent opponents from getting comfortable with a particular set.

“We switch our defenses up constantly,” the Lake Shore coach said. “We like to pressure the ball, and it seems like we play better when we do that.

Stevens said that lockdown defense would be key, if the Shorians hope to challenge for the MAC Silver title. He said Lake Shore would need to hold teams to between 40 and 50 points, if it hopes to have success. The Shorians were allowing 59 points per game at press time.

Stevens said wining the league would be an uphill climb because he feels the Silver has gotten stronger.

“In the past, teams in the Silver would be hardpressed to have wins outside of the league,” Stevens said. “This year, every team has one or two wins.

“We’re a young team, and guys are still learning their roles, but I think we’ll get stronger as the year goes on.”

Lake Shore’s next tip is set for 7 p.m. Jan. 17 at Marine City.