Cardinal has a new coach and a lot of new faces in the lineup this season, but the Huskies are as eager as ever to tip off a new season.
The Huskies return just one starter and one other player with varsity experience from last season’s squad that finished 15-9 overall and 8-2 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division.
“We have a lot of guys playing in new, much larger roles this season,” said first-year head coach Kyle Deckerd. “A lot of new faces will get varsity experience. I am confident that we will be playing our best basketball in February.”
Deckerd is focused on the Huskies improving after each practice and game, and they’ll rely a lot on their speed to compete in games this winter.
“With the lack of varsity basketball experience, we will have many challenges ahead of us this season. Our goal is to get better every day and to stay positive,” he said. “We will look to use our speed to our advantage this season. We have a group of guys that complement each other and look to build that chemistry.”
Cardinal’s lone returning starter is a good one.
Senior Troy Domen, a 6-foot guard, was a first-team All-CVC selection last winter after scoring 13.7 points with 5.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game. He enters his senior season with 891 points in his career and is well within reach of the school’s all-time record for points scored in a career. Jake Bean currently holds that record with 1,206 points.
“Troy is an excellent athlete and with the most returning experience we will be leaning on him to lead us,” Deckerd said.
Rounding out Cardinal’s projected starting lineup are senior Clayton Cochran and juniors Dominic Naples, Cal Ciminello, and Carter Tucker.
Cochran is a 6-foot-1 forward, Naples is a 6-foot-1 wing, Ciminello is a 5-foot-10 guard, and Tucker is a 6-foot wing.
“Clayton is bought into what is going in the gym and has been a great leader to our younger players,” Deckerd said. “We are thrilled that Dominic is back healthy for us this season and look forward to him taking a leap within his new role. Cal will hold the reins at point guard this year. Being a first-year starter, we will rely on him to take care of the basketball. Carter is a tenacious defender who continues to grow on the offensive end of the floor.”
Providing depth for the Huskies are senior Neil Lucarello, a 6-foot-1 center, and juniors Chuck Soltis, a 5-foot-8 guard, and Austin Jones, a 6-foot-3 forward.
“Neil has been an excellent role model and teammate,” Decker said. “Chuck will look to help us off the bench this year. He is an excellent teammate and shooter. Austin will help us spread the floor and look to knock down some jump shots this season.”
The Huskies are young but have enough talent to compete in the Valley Division.
Their success hinges on their ability to control the controllables.
“We will need to take care of the ball, communicate on defense and rebound the basketball,” Decker said. “Our goal is to be playing our best basketball in February and to make a run in the tournament.”