When Lake Region head basketball coach Jared Marshall reflect back on the 2018-19 season, fatigue was the word he used in describing how his Royals closed out the season despite achieving team goals.
"We got tired. Some internal stuff — we didn't come together quite like I hoped," Marshall said. The Royals ended the season losing seven of their final eight games. But the win came in the Region 13 quarterfinals, the first playoff victory for the Royals in 10 years. However, it was a missed opportunity for the Royals who were led by six sophomores.
This season, Marshall will have to reload as the entire roster for the Royals has been turned over. Only two players from last season remain, 6-foot-8 center Josh Kihle and 6'2" guard Kolton Vetter (Carrington). So remembering last season's late season unraveling, Marshall has a message for the newbies.
"One of my big messages this year is that we have to come together. No matter what's going on, all that stuff, the thing that will undue us is us. We have to mesh. We can still win but to do great things it's all going to be about team chemistry," Marshall said.
The makeup of the Royals include nine freshmen and two transfers that were added to returners Kihle and Vetter. Marshall also added a new assistant, Alex Kladis, so there is work to be done to get the squad gelling.
"We're just trying to do things in practice and outside of practice and different team building excercises to get them together. The biggest thing I'm trying to do is be positive with them. They need to know that it's going to be OK, that we're going to make mistakes, that it's not all going to come at once and we're going to just keep working," Marshall said.
Among the newcomers are Steven Rwahwire and Myles Arnold transfers from other JUCO programs. Arnold spent last season with Odessa College which finished No. 7 in NJCAA Division I and Rwahwire transferred in from Daytona State (Fla.)
"Both of those guys have been around a lot of wins, they just know how to play. They know that it will be a long season and they can kind of pick up those young guys when the time comes," said Marshall.
And despite the plethora of new faces, the goals remain the same — to win 20 games, win the Mon-Dak and capture a region championship. But there is also one extra side objective in Marshall's view.
"Stick together until the end. I don't want us falter down the stretch again as we've done in the past."
The Royals open their season a week from today in the Pre Mon-Dak Tournament held at the Four Bears Casino & Event Center in New Town.