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Richardton-Taylor Raiders boys basketball knows rebounding will prove vital

Any good basketball coach knows that rebounding is important, but for a basketball coach that's leading a team devoid of height, rebounds become ever more vital.This is the situation Rob Bartz finds himself in at Richardton-Taylor. "We're so smal...

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Richardton-Taylor senior guard Denver Colgrove, left, looks to pass during last season’s Roughrider Tournament Dec. 17, 2014 at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Press File Photo)

Any good basketball coach knows that rebounding is important, but for a basketball coach that’s leading a team devoid of height, rebounds become ever more vital.
This is the situation Rob Bartz finds himself in at Richardton-Taylor.
“We’re so small this year,” the Raiders’ head boys basketball coach said, “so we essentially have five guards on the floor.”
After graduating 6-foot-4 center and double-double guy Spencer Floberg last season, the Raiders are left with having to rearrange on both sides of the floor.
“We’re not going to have one guy take a game over, so we’ve had to learn a whole new offense because of our lack of a post,” Bartz said. “We’re learning more of a transition game because of our speed. It’s coming along, but it’s going to struggle a little bit.”
The transition game relies on a lot to be successful, but it cannot start without one critical aspect.
“You can’t run the fast break if you can’t rebound,” Bartz said. “We‘ll try to run our offense off the rebound, and if we get caught in a half-court set, we’ll have to be patient.”
Running that offense will be returning seniors Denver Colgrove and Abe Axtmann, and junior Brendan Butterfield, who are all listed at 6-foot-1.
“Denver can get to the rim whenever he wants because he’s just so strong,” Bartz said. “Abe is long and quick, so he gets a lot of rebounds and plays good defense. He’s a hustle player. Brendan has a good jump shot and a pretty high basketball IQ. He’s one of our better outside shooters, and we’ll look for him to lead on the offensive side of the floor.”
Those three are the only full-time returners for the Raiders, though. Bartz is confident, however, that the rest of his team will come together quickly.
Junior Ethan Kuntz projects to be a backup point guard to Butterfield, and classmate Jayden Olson, at 6-foot-2, will play as the team’s “quasi-post player,” according to Bartz.
“With Jayden, he’s a big, strong kid, and we’re hoping he can be - if we had a post, he’d be it,” Bartz said. “He plays better with his back to the basket than anybody on the team. We hope he can get those boards to facilitate the fast break. And even if he can’t get an outlet (pass) he can bring it up.”
Bartz knows his team will be at a steep disadvantage on the boards this season, but that won’t be for a lack of effort.
“We want to run, and that means we have to rebound,” he said. “That’s a big task because we might be the smallest team in the region. The kids will have to focus on pulling down boards.”
That doesn’t mean, though, that the team will disregard block attempts and sell out for the rebound; Bartz hopes for a well-rounded defensive effort.
“I’m focusing on closing out. We don’t have true shot blockers, but we have some kids that can do it,” he said, “but mostly we’ll be focusing on a contest and a box out.”
And from there, the Raiders hope everything else falls into place.

Richardton-Taylor Raiders
Head coach: Rob Bartz (seventh season)
Last year: 11-11 overall
Returners: Denver Colgrove, Sr. (8 ppg, 3 rpg); Abe Axtmann, Sr. (7 ppg, 3 rpg); Brendan Butterfield, Jr. (3 ppg).
Newcomers: Christian Kelley, Sr.; Karl Vyse, Sr.; Ethan Kuntz, Jr.; Jayden Olson, Jr.; Ethan Goetz, Jr.; Adrian Hauck, Jr.; Alec Dinius, Jr.; Matthew Naumann, Soph.

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