It’s time for high school basketball once again, with the season opening up this afternoon. St. Elizabeth will be in action at the A.I. duPont Tip-Off Tournament vs. Christiana at approximately 4:45 p.m., while Salesianum travels to Howard for a 5:30 p.m. tilt.
St. Elizabeth returns a veteran core from a team that finished 14-7, reaching the second round of the tournament. The Vikings feature one of the top players in the state in senior Jordan Money. He will be joined by classmates Elijah Dockery, Eric Hicks and David Hazleton, along with junior Nate Thomas. The new faces to look for include Justin Money, Jordan Brown and Ryan Hockenbrock.
The biggest change on Cedar Street is on the bench, as former Vikings assistant Matt Rubincam returns in the head-coaching capacity following the retirement of longtime coach Dick Rago. Rubincam said his style will be up-tempo on offense paired with defensive intensity.
“My challenge will be getting these players to buy in and learn my system,” Rubincam said. “These players are used to a different system and I am hoping they buy in and adjust to my system which will focus more on the defensive end of the floor, transition and rebounding the basketball.”
The Vikings’ schedule includes Howard, Hodgson, William Penn and Smyrna, along with the home-and-home series with Salesianum and St. Mark’s.
After two consecutive state championships, Salesianum put together a 13-9 campaign in 2015-16, falling to Delcastle in the second round. The Sals said goodbye to four seniors and two freshman who played significant minutes who have gone elsewhere. Salesianum’s leaders will be senior point guard Michael Kempski and 6-8 sophomore center Tariq Ingraham, who opened eyes last year with his inside game.
The Sals’ success, according to coach Brendan Haley, “will be based on our ability to toughen up a little bit. Our identity right now is a team that lacks toughness.”
To be successful, Haley said, players are going to need to be willing “to do the dirty jobs necessary.” That includes screening, blocking out and guarding the basketball.
“We have some parts, but we need to become a much tougher team to play against than we currently are,” he said.
They will get a chance to toughen up against a formidable schedule. After opening on the road at Howard, the Sals host William Penn. They travel this season to Smyrna and Appoquinimink, and they have both St. Elizabeth and St. Mark’s twice.