By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
John Schaefer must’ve really missed Andy’s, cashew chicken, the fair and MSU Basketball.
After spending three years at Belton, Schaefer is back in the Ozarks, taking over COC power Rogersville and he couldn’t be happier about the return.
“Very excited to be back home around my family and friends,” said Schaefer. “There is no better place to coach and teach basketball than Southwest Missouri in my opinion. I love the camaraderie of coaches in the area and all the rivalries as well. I’m thankful that Logan-Rogersville gave me the opportunity to come back to the area.”
For the second time in the last four years he will be tasked with inputting his system, expectations and processes on a new group of young men, something that is often the most difficult part of taking a new job.
However, he inherits a program that was largely built by Hall of Fame coach Rod Gorman and maintained by Mitch McHenry last year, something Schaefer believes will make the process seamless.
“Trying to change a culture of the way kids think and adjusting the mentality to produce a successful, respectable program is always tough,” said Schaefer. “LR has had a great program over the years which makes the transition less difficult and allows for our staff to start implementing our defense and offense sooner. This allows us to spend more time getting to know our players and learning their tendencies, and skill levels so we can produce a solid basketball team.”
Schaefer will certainly have some tools to work with from Day One.
Rogersville went 16-12 last season and six of those losses were by single digits. The Cats return three starters from that team, which include All-COC pick Andrew Scott.
The senior guard will shoulder an even larger scoring role this year after the graduation of Choppy McHenry. Luke Vandersnick, a 6-foot-4 junior forward, is one of the best defenders in the Ozarks, but will look to increase his offensive output this winter.
Both players will look to build on a productive summer.
“I have been really impressed with how hard both of those guys have worked over the summer as well as the offseason,” said Schaefer. “They have both hit the weights really hard and have put on some noticeable size and strength. They are also great leaders and role models for our program. I look forward to coaching them this year, and watching them mature as players and young men.”
Rogersville’s schedule will do them few favors.
The Cats open the season on Nov. 18 with a trip to Rolla. From there it’s the always loaded Republic Tournament, a trip to reigning Class 1 state champ Walnut Grove before Class 5 Ozark comes to town for the home opener.
Schaefer is excited about the challenge and what fans will see from a John Schaefer-coached team throughout the season, which will hopefully be a competitive bunch.
“People can expect to see a disciplined team that will be defensively sound,” said Schaefer. “We have the ability to get up and down the floor as well as be able to play an inside-outside game. We will have some good size and length that will really complement our match-up zone,” Schaefer said. “For us to be successful our work ethic will have to be strong and we must have the desire to compete and win. The cohesiveness of our team is going to play a large role in our success as well.”