As head coach, Roger Craft enters his eighth season at the helm for the Covington Buccaneers, he will enter the 2004-05 season with optimism for another strong push at the CCC title and hopefully an extended tournament run.
This optimism comes despite not having one senior on this years squad after losing all-conference player of the year, Matt McCord and a solid cast of seniors from last years CCC runner-ups.
The reason for optimism can be attributed to the returning players from last season and the up-and-coming depth to the team.
Leading the way will be two-year letterman, junior, Darin Rhoades. Rhoades averaged 9.7 points per game last year and led the Buccs in trey with 44. Rhoades also earned special sention in the conference. He is the Buccs' deep threat, but can penetrate to the basket.
In the middle the Buccs have one of the most physical players in the Cross County Conference in 6'4" junior, Dusty Kimmel. Kimmel, also a two-year letterman, earned honorable mention as a sophomore and averaged 8.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game last year. His physical presence and added maturity makes him potentially one of the most dominating big men in the CCC.
Sophomore, Gene Studebaker returns to the starting line-up after earning freshman of the year honors in the conference last season. Studebaker is a very gifted athlete who can score from anywhere on the floor. Gene averaged 8.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game last season. If he can overcome a football injury, he could become a game-breaker this season.
Taking over the controls of the Buccaneer' offense is 6'0" junior, Richard Canan. An unselfish player who manages the game very well. A two-year letterman with outstanding ball handing skills and excellent court awarenes, Canan may not always show his contribution in the statistics, but in his all-around solid play.
Joining Kimmel in the middle will be three players who bring their own talents to the floor. Junior, Nick Meyer, 6'3", brings a big body and physical play to the inside. Meyer lettered last season as a sophomore and received valuable playing time down the stretch.
Junior, Corey Sprankle, 6'3", brings a soft touch and finess to the forward position. Sprankle has a knack of hitting the clutch shots as evident by his play at the junior varsity level a year ago.
Seth Mohler, a 6'2" sophomore, bhrings a little finess and aggressiveness to the floor. He is a very athletic performer who hustles for loose balls and rebounds in traffic.
Coming off the bench in the backcourt will be juniors, Nick Christian and Michael Gilmore. Christian, 5'9" is an aggressive, hard-nosed player. Also a solid defender and potential scoring threat. Gilmore, 6'2", is also hard-nosed and has a soft touch from the outside. Both will contribute greatly to the success of the Buccs this season.
The Cross County Conference is a tough as it has been in years with defending champion, Ansonia reterning a nucleus of talented players. The Tigers are the pre-season favorite to earn a second straight title, but the opening game of the season against the Buccs could be pivitol for both teams.
Twin Valley South, National Trail and Tri-Village are also teams who will be in the hunt. Trail returns arguably the best big man in the conference in Tim Beck. Twin Valley South brings an outstanding back-court and Tri-Village has the size and athleticism to comete with anyone.