The Olentangy Liberty boys basketball team had its share of ups and downs in league play last season, finishing 5-9 in OCC action and 10-13 overall.
The goal, as always, is to improve on last year’s mark … something the Patriots will have to do in the revamped OCC-Buckeye Division against teams like Westerville South (defending state champs) and Westerville North (a team which knocked Liberty out of the tournament last year). Olentangy Orange, which won a league title as a member of the OCC-Capital Division last season, Olentangy, which made a deep tourney run, and Westerville Central also join the league.
Head coach Greg Nossaman, who is back for his ninth season with the program (117-66 record), has three key returners back and ready to go — 5-10 senior guards Jack Barnett and Ethan Novy and 6-5 sophomore wing Ben Roderick.
Roderick returns as the leading scorer after averaging 7.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game last year. Barnett chipped in 6.2 points and 4.2 assists while Novy added 3.5 points per game for Liberty.
Nick Nakasian, a 6-2 sophomore, 6-7 junior Dan McFarland, 6-1 sophomore Mitchell Okuley and 6-2 sophomore Mitchell Kershner will also see plenty of action with 6-0 senior Trey Stablein, 6-2 senior Mike Bass, 6-5 junior Brett Buzash and 6-4 sophomore Llwyatt Hofer smoothing out the varsity roster.
Nossaman said his group is thin in experience, but makes up for it with chemistry.
“We have outstanding team chemistry,” he said. “They like playing with each other. We don’t have much experience, though, and lack size.”
The Patriots also got off to a late start as six of the team’s top 10 players were a part of the football team’s school record 13-1 season — a campaign which didn’t wrap up until last Friday’s Division I state semifinal.
Liberty opens the season today at Grove City against Perrysburg.
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.