Forget what you know about the Olentangy boys basketball team.
Everything about this year’s squad is different. Most of the players are different, the conference is different … heck, even the head coach is different.
The Braves lost 11 guys off a team that finished 12-12 overall and 8-6 in the OCC-Capital Division action last winter. This year’s group has a few familiar faces, but most come up from a JV team which finished 21-1 … and they’ll be playing in the new OCC-Buckeye Division with defending state champ Westerville South, the other two Westerville schools and rivals Olentangy Liberty and Orange.
They’ll be coached by John Feasel, who takes over for Chris Kelly after leading the Olentangy girls basketball team to conference titles five out of the last seven years and spots in the district championship six out of the last eight. He complied a career 176-126 record over his 13 seasons with the girls, with 139 of those wins coming in the last seven.
After Thursday’s season-opening win at Marion Harding, he’s 1-0 with the boys.
“I’m going to miss the girls, but the energy I’m getting from coaching the guys is fun,” Feasel said. “It’s different, but exciting … and I’m going to enjoy it.”
Feasel has six lettermen back in the fold — 6-0 senior guard Jason Sieve, 6-2 senior wing Will Elmore, 6-3 senior forward Nathan Riedel, 5-9 sophomore guard Sean Marks, 6-1 senior guard Greg Hendrix and 6-2 junior forward Jerred Kinnaird.
And Feasel said they’re responding to the coaching change just as well as he is.
“I’ve been very happy with the way they’ve handled everything,” he said. “They’ve worked hard and done everything I’ve asked them to.
“Sieve is one of our captains. He knows the game, understands the game, and he’s going to have to lead us. Marks is going to be pretty good and we have a guy in Elmore who can knock down the three and defend. Hendrix can shoot and rebound, Kinnaird is a solid junior and Riedel is doing a great job as one of our bigger guys.”
Outside of Riedel, though, the Braves don’t have much height.
“We have a height deficiency,” Feasel said. “We’re not going to be able to slow it down and shove it down anyone’s throat. We’re going to get up and down the floor and play to our strengths.”
Others you could see contribute key minutes include 5-11 sophomore guard Luke Riedel, 5-6 junior guard Kyle Milliron, 5-6 junior guard Chantz Simpson, 5-9 sophomore guard Christian Browning, 5-11 sophomore guard Alex Sieve, 5-9 junior guard Adam Wiff and 6-3 sophomore forward Caleb Steele.
“We’re young in some spots, but with the seniors, we have some good mixing and matching going on,” Feasel said.
Olentangy will look to improve to 2-0 on the young season when it hosts Madison Comprehensive today at 7:30 p.m.
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.