Blue Dukes continue to roll despite losing coach, key players
Guard-heavy rotation, blending new faces key to season
Whitefish Bay — No Coach Dave Shaw, no Jimmy Sherburne, no Kevin James.
But so far, no problem for the new look Whitefish Bay boys basketball team, as they look not to skip a beat following a 21-2 North Shore Conference championship season under new coach, but long-time Blue Dukes old hand Kevin Lazovik.
"We're very excited about our potential," said Lazovik after the Blue Dukes split a pair of games in the Manitowoc Tournament last weekend. "There's a good mix of juniors and seniors. We'll be a little green of course, but it'll just be a matter of time before the kids get used to varsity experience."
And Lazovik, who is stepping into the shoes of the former NOW Newspapers All-Suburban Coach of the Year Shaw, after Shaw took a new job, does have the experience. He played for and learned from Bay basketball heroes Jeff Thielke and Jack Bleier in both 1996 (division 2 state champs) and 1997 (division 2 state semifinalists) and was a varsity assistant for the last four years.
But he's stepping into a situation where the heart of the team (seven seniors) is gone, including the tri-North Shore Player of the Year Sherburne, who is set to play for Princeton, and James, a power forward, who last summer signed a Major League Baseball contract.
"Everyone is taking a deep breath," said Lazovik, "but we're going to keep things fairly familiar. The seniors have stepped into their roles and the practices have been competitive."
Making life easier is the return of two starters, including 6-3 senior guard John Johnson, who was the "two" to Sherburne's "one" in Bay's "one-two" punch last winter.
"You couldn't ask for a better young man to lead the team." said Lazovik.
The other returning starter is 6-7 junior Jamie Schneck.
Others expected to make an impact include 5-9 senior Javontae Merriwether, 5-11 senior Alex Jamerson, 6-5 junior Ron Patten, 6-3 senior Paul Davis and 6-3 junior Cal Ehrke. Ehrke and Davis formed the heart of the playoff-bound Bay football team's passing game this past fall and will aid Bay's frontcourt depth this winter as forwards.
"We're going to be guard-heavy though," Lazovik said. "We'll run the flex offense with an emphasis on making the good pass with good decision-making. We'll also do a little motion, ala Bobby Knight."
The Blue Dukes will host Hope Christian at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Bay lost to Antigo in the Manitowoc Tournament semifinal, 74-63. That veteran team, the returning Great Northern Conference champion, is coached by Shaw's brother, Jesse. The Blue Dukes bounced back to defeat the host Ships, 69-54, in the consolation game.
- Steven L. Tietz
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