In his 38th year of coaching high school basketball and his second year at the helm of the Osage Indians boys basketball team, coach Craig Engelbrecht feels that his team is on the right track. After finishing 10-15 last season as part of a process that he described as “trying to build the program from the ground up”, Engelbrecht believes that the Indians are looking good as they progress toward their regular season opener in less than two weeks.
“We had a good summer. Early season practices have been good and we hope that transitions to the regular season,” coach Engelbrecht said, speaking to the work his team put in over the months of summer break by competing in a summer league.
Crediting the results he saw in his team’s summer league performance and with their preseason practices, Engelbrecht said he already has a good grasp of what the varsity team will look like. Although he is confident that the coaching staff has their varsity roster all but set, he does acknowledge that their plans for the team may need to be altered once the regular season begins.
“It can change once we start real games, but right now we have a pretty good idea,” he said, referring to what the varsity team will ultimately end up looking like.
Coach Engelbrecht discussed his desire to improve the Indians’ depth this season by getting more players increased playing time on varsity. He stated they will make an effort to “include a lot of players” throughout the season, and that they would “like to have depth to press and play lots of players” as part of Osage’s overall playing style and mentality.
In regard to their style of play, Engelbrecht wants to see the players continue to improve from last season and expressed his desire to see his team play a more aggressive brand of basketball, with special attention given to rebounding and on defense. As a part of improving upon last year, he also talked about the need for the Indians to stay involved and to not give up on any play.
“We’re trying to instill a little more physicality, especially on defense, to compete every single play and be better rebounding,” Engelbrecht said about the areas in which Osage will focus on improving this season.
Taking all of these things into consideration, coach Engelbrecht said that he expects to put a competitive team on the court this season thanks in no small part to their emphasis on defense and a commitment to playing tenaciously for the entire game. However, he was reluctant to make any predictions at this point in the season, conceding that the Tri-County Conference is full of talented and impressive teams that will present a challenge to Osage whenever they play the other teams in their conference.
“It’s a loaded conference, let’s just play a few games and see how we are.” Engelbrecht said, and with a laugh continued, “everyone’s undefeated right now.”
Osage will face their first tests when they compete in a jamboree hosted by Camdenton Tuesday, Nov. 16, with their first game scheduled to start at approximately 5 p.m. They will have scrimmages against the Macks Creek Pirates, Plato Eagles, and Camdenton Lakers. The Indians’ first regular season game will be on the road against the Cole Camp Bluebirds Tuesday, Nov. 23, at 6 p.m.