- Laurel Pfahler Contributing Writer
Tim Reed is realistic about expectations for his Talawanda High School boys basketball team.
As the season sets to begin Dec. 1 at home against Fenwick, he isn’t talking about wins. He’s talking about competing.
Talawanda hasn’t had a winning record since 2008-09, and Reed has the daunting task of beginning the turnaround despite a carousel of coaches coming in and out since the end of last season when the Braves finished 3-20 and Eddie Glaser resigned.
Reed, a retired teacher who also coaches baseball at Talawanda, hopes to provide some stability after stepping in last minute in mid-October to replace Chris Coles, who had been hired in May but ultimately couldn’t make the commitment.
“They’ve had a revolving door of coaches up here, so hopefully we can stabilize it and get it in right direction,” Reed said. “It’s hard to build trust when there are so many coaches but we’ve been working and getting through it, and we’ve improved a lot since the first day of practice. We’re starting to see where we’re headed with our philosophy.
“Right now, we just want to compete in all 22 games,” he added. “We haven’t had a lot of success in the last 10 years, so we are not worried about the wins. We just want to be competitive and go from there. We were picked in the bottom of our league, so that should be a motivating factor for our kids.”
Reed knows it could be a long road ahead. Coles apparently was trying to commute from Michigan after he was hired, and the team did very little this summer while most other teams were practicing regularly.
That leaves the Braves behind to start out.
They lost five seniors from last year’s team, and although they return three of the top five scorers, there is little depth behind them. Seniors Evan James (14 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game), Ty Hornsby (6.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Josh DeWitt (6.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg) will be joined by new starters Ryan Henes and Tommy Winkler, both juniors who appeared in just a few games off the bench last year.
“We’ve got some young kids showing a lot of promise but they didn’t do a lot this summer, so it’s hard to tell what they can really do,” Reed said. “It hurt the kids because they didn’t do much until the middle of October when I was hired. We’re really behind the boat, but we’re taking it as it is and going from there.”
The Braves look to push the ball through a motion offense and plan to move away from their perimeter game of the past to get the ball inside for some easier baskets, particularly with the 6-foot-7 Hornsby and 6-foot-5 DeWitt.
Reed’s biggest focus, however, is playing good defense. The Braves will play man-to-man most of the time, but Reed is still trying to get his players to fit his style.
“That’s been the hardest concept for them to learn, that we have to stop people to be successful,” Reed said. “They need to be more aggressive and just get after it a little more. They just don’t have that mentality yet, but we’re working on it.”
Reed also recognizes the importance of trying to keep spirits raised despite the coaching changes, the challenges ahead and the memories of past struggles.
To create a closer team mentality and stronger overall program, he begins practices with all three teams — the freshman, junior varsity and varsity squads — together for the first 20-25 minutes before breaking up into their own sessions. Ultimately, he hopes it helps younger players better prepare for the future as his program develops.
“We want to become a family and more team-oriented,” Reed said. “We talk about that a lot. We’re trying to get program unity together where everyone pulls for everyone, and with all these kids have been through, that’s especially important now.”View full experience