Eye of the Tiger

12 juniors, one sophomore take on varsity

JAMIE BATEMAN

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s experience and team chemistry, the varsity boys basketball team looks to bounce back from a tough season last year that saw the team finish with an overall record of 7-20 and a league record of 2-12 in their debut season in the Central Valley Conference.

The current team’s age demographic is a unique one and is very to different to that of last year’s.

This year’s team includes no seniors and consists of 12 juniors and one sophomore. Last year’s team consisted of five seniors, three juniors and six sophomores.

This is the first time in 15 years of coaching basketball at Roseville High School that varsity coach Greg Granucci has coached a team without a senior player.

Granucci knows that he and the boys on the team will have to make some adjustments to how they play in order to adapt to their current situation. He feels that there are both disadvantages and advantages to this.

“This is a learning experience for me as well. Just like I’m telling the guys, we’re just taking it day by day,” Granucci said. “There is a maturity level that comes with being a senior so I don’t know. It has been an interesting start to the season so far with some ups and downs so hopefully we can start being a little more consistent.”

Although the team does not have any seniors, six of the varsity players, current juniors Brandon Del Rosario, Jason Russell, Tommy Edwards, Jimmy Jaggers, Zack Mancha and Grant Baer played on the team last year.

According to Russell, a team captain, the fact that almost half of the team already has a year of varsity experience makes up for the lack of the age and maturity level that a senior might bring to the team.

“I don’t think the age of our team has hurt us as much as people think,” Russell said. “The six of us who got pulled up last year know what to expect and I think it’s made it easier on everybody else knowing that there aren’t any seniors.”

Del Rosario, another one of the team’s captains, agrees with Russell and feels like the exposure to varsity basketball as sophomores not only helped the core six grow as players, but also will allow them to help their current teammates who are new to varsity adapt to the speed of the new level this season.

“Last year, all six of us were able to get solid playing time because of all the seniors that got hurt, and we got the opportunity to play against people that were bigger than us and also get used to the intensity of varsity,” Del Rosario said. “I think the six of us can help them out with adjusting to the speed of the game.”

Granucci recognizes the lack of experience in his newer players and is putting a focus on helping them make the dramatic transition to the varsity level.

“We have a lot of guys who don’t really have varsity experience,” Granucci said. “This early in the year we are just trying to get everyone used to the nerves of playing varsity.”

One of the players who is new to varsity and who is still making the transition is the team’s only sophomore, Joe Cirrincione. Granucci feels like Cirrincione, despite still adjusting to varsity, brings a lot of energy and talent to the team.

“Joe played varsity basketball over the summer and I think that right now he is still adjusting to the speed,” Granucci said. “Every day he hustles and brings energy to our team and every day I see improvement.”

Mancha, a returning junior, feels like Cirrincione gives his full effort every time he plays, whether it is in a game or in practice.

“In my opinion, Joe is the hardest worker on our team,” Mancha said. “He constantly works hard at every game and every practice.”

Cirrincioni has earned a place in the starting lineup multiple times this season and is enjoying playing on the varsity team.

“It’s been a good step for me to get better,” Cirrincione said, “and the guys have really welcomed me into the team.”

Another obstacle for the team is that juniors Jakob Hedger, Braden Triplett and Mancha are all currently unable to play games with the team. Hedger and Triplett are unable to play because of their recent school transfers from Woodcreek High School and Granite Bay High School, respectively, but will be able to begin participating in games on January 6.

Mancha cannot play due to lack of academic merit and hopes to better his grades before the next grade check so that he will be able to play.

Hedger feels that when the three are eventually able to play with the team, they will each be able to bring their own unique skills to help the program.

“Me, Braden and Zach can supply some depth to the team,” Hedger said. “All three of us are good at pushing the ball and that’s what we are going to try to do.”

The Tigers take on on the McClatchy Lions at home tonight at 7:00 p.m. at RHS.

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