Model Laboratory coach John Morgerson won’t have too many options to choose from when he looks down the bench this season.
The team’s current roster only features a total of nine players.
“That’s what we are going with right now,” Morgerson said. “We will just play with who we got.”
The Patriots graduated five players from a team that won 10 games a season ago, then had six others opt out this summer because of COVID-19 concerns.
A couple of injuries in the offseason have left Model (10-21) even more short-handed.
The Patriots, however, do have six upperclassmen on the roster, including three who were in the starting line-up last season.
Five other returners have played at the varsity level as well.
“If it was my first year, it would be really hard,” said Morgerson, who is in his second season at Model. “We are running a lot of the same stuff. They knew what I expect. We are not spending as much time teaching the little things. We are getting them more time to fine tune things.”
With limited practice time because of COVID-19 restrictions — and a limited amount of players — preparing for the season has been a bit of a struggle.
At times, the coaching staff has had to jump into workouts so the team can scrimmage or run through drills.
Despite the difficulties, Morgerson has been pleased with how his players have adapted, persevered and kept a positive attitude.
“We have a good group of guys. We are fortunate to have seniors who work hard, even when they are not in the gym,” Morgerson said.
The Patriots may lack depth, but still have plenty of talent on the roster.
Bryson Perry was the team’s second-leading scorer last season (11.3 points a game) and hit 39 three-pointers. The senior transferred to the International Sports Academy in Ohio this summer, but returned to Model during fall break.
“They hadn’t played any games, so he was able to start back with us,” Morgerson said of Perry. “That was a big get for us to get him back because we were going to be scrambling to figure out how we were going to play without him.”
The 5-foot-9 point guard also played this summer with Tarius Johnson’s Elite AAU team.
“He has gotten a lot stronger with his ball handling,” Morgerson said of Perry. “He’s gotten better as a scorer.”
Ethan Bailey played in all 30 games last season for Model. He hit a team-best 54 three-pointers and averaged 7.6 points a game.
The senior guard should get up even more shots this year.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Ethan hits 60 or 65 three-pointers,” Morgerson said of Bailey.
Nate Feese led the Patriots in rebounding last year (6.7 boards a game,) while averaging 6.3 points a game. The 6-foot-2 forward is Model’s most physical presence on the inside, but can also step out and knock down a jumpshot.
“I think Nate can play a similar role to what Cruse (Pingelton) did last year,” Morgerson said. “He has the ability to be an active power forward who can attack the rim and finish hard.”
Senior Jackson Perry saw limited action last season, playing just 16 games, but will be asked to step into a bigger role.
“He started to get more minutes later in the season. He battled some back issues,” Morgerson said of Jackson Perry.
John Benson has been a standout tennis and soccer for the past couple of years at Model.
Even with limited basketball experience, his athleticism could be a big benefit to the Patriots.
“He has got a chance to play a lot,” Morgerson said of Benson.
Senior Colton Collier played in 27 games and pulled down 54 rebounds in limited minutes. He is one of the fastest players of the team.
Three juniors who have very limited varsity experience will also be counted on to step into the varsity rotation — Grayson Eaves, Thomas Luxon and Austin Hall.
The Patriots are also hopefully they will get another senior to return to the roster. Forward Everett Parker-Noblitt opted out because of family health concerns.
He played in 10 games last season.
“I don’t know if he will be back or not,” Morgerson said of Parker-Noblitt. “Hopefully, he will get a chance.”
With a thin bench, the Patriots may have to change their approach this season, especially defensively.
“We probably will play a little more zone,” Morgerson said.
After missing all of summer workouts because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Patriots haven’t had any preseason games or scrimmages either.
That could lead to some early season struggles.
However, Morgerson is confident his team will get better each game.
“Once we figure out our identity, that will help us figure out how we are going to play,” Morgerson said.