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Cards ready for challenging schedule

November 28, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

A big chunk of Canfield's boys basketball team graduated this past summer.

Of the nine seniors that left that 15-9 Canfield squad, five were major contributors. Included in that group were three players that averaged more than 10 points per game. Making up for those losses will be a major challenge for veteran head coach Todd Muckleroy 2018/2019.

"In any season the next set of classes shows how they can contribute the following year," Muckleroy said. "Our players have been focused on improvement individually with the betterment of the team as a main focus."

Muckleroy will be focusing on senior point guard Conor Crogan to lead his bunch this winter. The coach enjoys watching his number one returnee play offensively and defensively.

"Conor has to be a guy to make a difference on both ends of the floor," Muckleroy said. "As a point guard he will need to make good decisions as the facilitator for our team."

While Crogan will keep the Cardinals cooking in the backcourt, a pair of super-sized Cardinals will lead the way in the paint. Forwards Kyle Gamble and Aydin Hanousek stand 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-6 respectively and will afford some versatility in Muckleroy's starting five.

"Gamble will need to adapt to playing both inside and out," he said. "Hanousek will provide size and skill to our lineup."

Senior Brendan Bova will see a lot of time at the guard spot opposite Crogan. Another senior, Luke Pallante, will play a ton at forward. The intangibles that having four longtime teammates brings may mean more to the Cardinals than any one player averaging 20 points per game.

"From the preseason it is evident that our team is very close," said Muckleroy. "Their homework and preparation are two of the major strengths that they hold and control right now."

Those traits may be strengths, but there are some weaknesses on this Canfield club too that Muckleroy would like to clean up before the season commences Nov. 30 at Marlington. One of those major areas of concern is his team's trying season slate.

"We need to produce amidst obstacles," said Muckleroy. "Our schedule is not for the faint of heart. We will be challenged every game."

All four of Canfield's games before Dec. 12 will take place on the road. One of those will be at rival Poland on Dec. 8. That game will no longer carry the importance it once did since the Bulldogs have bolted the All American Conference for the newly formed Northeast 8. Still, any time the Cardinals and Bulldogs battle it out in any format it makes for high drama.

Canfield's quest for a league title starts after the New Year when it plays Austintown Fitch for the first time. In fact, the Cardinals and Falcons face off twice in the month of January. Most of the Cards' 2019 portion of the season agenda will be against their league rivals. By that time, the coach hopes all of the good habits that began in October have manifested into January and February.

"If they can continue to maintain the effort during the season that they had during the preseason we will be successful during the 2018/2019 campaign," Muckleroy said.



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