By Justin Sampson (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The coaching circumstances near the end of the 2017-2018 Marshfield boys basketball season were, safe to say, unorthodox. Damon Seiger was let go with less than a month to go in the season and still went on to be voted the COC Small Coach of the Year.
Former Springfield Catholic head man Tony Armstrong led the Blue Jays to the end of the campaign, one that finished with a 13-12 record and a first-round district exit.
When this season opens on Nov. 18, Marshfield will be under the tutelage of a third head coach in less than 10 games. This time, it will be former Evangel and Kickapoo assistant Adam Carpenter.
The new captain spent one year on Dick Rippee’s staff during the days of Jared Ridder and Cam Davis before joining Steve Jenkins and company with the Crusaders last season. Prior to that, he spent three years at Doniphan High School for his first head coaching job.
“I was spoiled and blessed to get a Class 3 job as my first job,” Carpenter said. “I was able to jump in and learn so many things about coaching normal high school athletes. You learn to motivate players that may not want to play college basketball or be in the gym 12 months out of the year.”
Carpenter sees both realities at Marshfield: kids whose playing days will stop upon graduation and some who could aspire to play at the next level. He has quickly moved towards establishing this mindset.
“Your first year at a place is so much about the culture. You have to get in their heads and understand what they’ve experienced. The program has always been competitive. I’m trying to set a really high bar and help them understand that there is no reason why Marshfield can’t be a top team in the district and conference consistently.”
He inherits one of the oldest squads in the area with seven seniors at his disposal: Brayden Peck, Tristan Lettterman, Jacobi Villines, Austin Porter, Parker Dinwiddie, Truett Gardner, and Brandon Pogue.
Trenton Kanengeiter will be another senior on the roster, but will miss out on returning to his starting spot in the post due to a torn ACL.
Porter and Letterman are returning All-COC selections. Porter, a Second Team honoree, averaged 14 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Letterman garnered an honorable mention with 13.2 points and 4.4 boards a night. He, along with Gardner, will also sport the most length for the Blue Jays, with each standing at around 6’4”.
Carpenter said he has no plans to come in and reinvent everything his seniors have spent their entire high school careers learning. The Blue Jays lost nine games by single digits last season and they have done nothing but grow. He will lean on his oldest players and provide them the freedom to help his transition through their own leadership.
“We have some all-conference caliber players,” he said. “We will have the conversations very quickly about how they need to lead us. In my experience as a player and coach, players like that responsibility. I’m very comfortable telling these guys that it’s not about me making things happen right now.”
“It’s about them having that freedom and taking control.”
What Carpenter will preach is three things: defense, rebounding, and discipline. He will utilize a man-to-man scheme and likes to play with motion and tempo. While understanding that it will take time to raise that tempo in his system, he is entrusting his upperclassmen to help the progression as quickly as possible.
“The first conversation I had with them was about how I am coming into their senior year. I respect them, automatically. Those are men to me. I want them to trust that it’s not about three years from now. I want to help them have a great senior year.”