Elder five feature versatility

Elder basketball opens up Tuesday, December 3rd against Princeton. Here's a look:

The+Elder+Panther+varsity+basketball+team%2C+2013-2014

The Elder Panther varsity basketball team, 2013-2014

As the temperature drops, the Elder cheering section moves from outside in The Pit, to inside the Fieldhouse behind Joe Schoenfield’s Elder Panthers.

As always, the Panthers are looking to improve – especially from the last few years.

This year’s team is loaded with experience with seven returning varsity players. Seniors Thomas Auetenrieb, Austin Cipriani, Justin Tebbe, Michael Jones, Devin Pike, and Kyle Koppenhoefer are all returning from last year. The other returning player is Brad Miller, who averaged 10.6 points per game last season. This is his second year on varsity – as a junior.

The other not as experienced but just as valuable players are juniors Mitch Morehead, Sam Feeney, and Aaron Held. Sophomores Frankie Hofmeyer, Joey Sabato and Peyton Ramsey are all skipping JV and heading straight to varsity.

The players to watch are four year varsity man Thomas Autenrieb, junior Brad Miller and Devin Pike.

The Panthers won’t be the biggest team in the state with their tallest players being Pike and Morehead at 6’-5”. And though Pike isn’t the biggest man down low, it doesn’t stop him from putting up 12.3 points per game and bringing down 8.5 rebounds – which was second in the GCL – last year.

And what they lack in size, they make up for with speed and basketball IQ.

Defensively, eyes will be on sophomore Joey Sabato. The speed that he has shown with last year’s 20-0 freshman team allows him to keep up with any point guard in the league. Often times, he is described as “scrappy” when he is on the other side of the ball.

“We are very experienced with our point guard Thomas [Autenrieb],” Senior Michael Jones said. “He will be the coach on the court with this being his fourth year on varsity.”

Elder will be extremely versatile when it comes to their offensive game plan. Autenrieb and Held will be ready to push the ball for a fast break or pass off to Miller, Jones or Koppenhoefer for the three. And when the three isn’t open, Tebbe and Cipriani will be driving the ball into the paint to finish at the rim.

Pike and Morehead will be posted on the block waiting for a lob ball to put a move on their defender.

With all the talent on this year’s team, no starting spot is safe. Jones said every player will have playing time and be able to contribute.

“With everyone knowing there is a chance to start, practice is very competitive,” Jones said. “With all the talent we have it should be a fun year, [we are] looking to win GCL then state.”

The last few seasons haven’t been the best for the Panthers with the last winning one being a record of 12-10 in  the 2010-2011 season; but talent has been somewhat lacking since that year.

The Panthers open up at home tomorrow night against Princeton and it will be interesting to see how Schoenfield uses his versatile and experienced team throughout the season.