Goshen News, Goshen, IN


November 19, 2012

PREP BOYS BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Buller, Bruins rebuild in 2012-13

Bethany Christian lost seven starters to graduation and will be young this season

GOSHEN — The season after you graduate seven seniors it’s going to be hard to have much experience coming back and that is the situation facing veteran coach Jim Buller as he prepares the Bethany Christian High School boys basketball team for the upcoming 2012-13 season.

Buller is back for his 34th season leading the Bruins and he is one victory shy of standing alone as the all-time winningest boys basketball coach in Elkhart County history. His career record of 364-352 has him tied with John Longfellow (364 wins in four seasons at Nappanee and 19 at Elkhart from 1924-48).

“We have six returning letterwinners, but precious little experience,” Buller said. “We lost seven seniors to graduation that had been a big part of our program for the last two or three seasons.”

Bethany posted a 10-11 record a year ago and the current season for the Bruins begins Tuesday night at Westview.

About the all-time wins record.

“It’s a school distinction,” Buller said. “There are a lot of coaches in the area that have 400 or 500 wins. They have just done it at a number of schools. I have been blessed with one school that has let me continue to do what I enjoy.”

Key among the veterans coming back is 6-2 senior forward Caleb Morris (115 points).

“Morris is clearly our leader in a lot of aspects,” the coach said. “He is our leader in determination and competitive ability. He needs to score for us, but just as significant is his passing ability. He is going to be like Larry Bird for us in the fact he is a point forward.”

Also among the returnees is 6-0 sophomore point guard Sol Brenneman (52).

“He was initiated into the varsity as a freshman,” Buller said. “He is young and talented so look for the ball to be in his hands a lot. He does a good job of getting guys involved in the offense. He has a huge upward potential and the skill set to be a tremendous player. He has a mind for basketball.”

Other veterans are 6-3 senior forward Jesse Loewen (43), 5-9 senior guard Byeong Chan Lim, 5-11 senior guard Isaac Schertz and 6-3 junior forward Abe Thorne (4).

“After Morris and Brenneman it’s really wide open,” Buller said. “Loewen played quite a bit last year and can be a dynamic forward for us. He runs the floor well, but could be doubtful for the opener as he is still battling a lingering injury that bothered him during soccer season. He’ll be a starter when he’s healthy.

“Thorne is an untried athlete. He runs the floor well and is learning how to score in the low post.”

Losses to graduation were David DeLeeuw (311), Andy Slagel (185) Femi Hollinger-Janzen (178), Austin Mumaw (32), Jared Miller (28), Bryce Rheinheimer (24) and A.J. Newcomer (1).

Other current seniors are 5-9 guard Ike Lehman and 6-1 forward Ben Rudy Froese.

“Both of them are out for the first time,” Buller said. “They are growing into roles, but there is a little uncertainty how that is going to come about. They have added to our team by making practices competitive and lively.

“Ben transferred from Canada last year and has just been cleared to play after suffering a concussion during soccer season.”

Additional sophomores are 5-9 sophomore guard Nate Nussbaum and 5-11 sophomore guard Cristian Romero.

“Nussbaum was the leader on our JV team last season,” Buller said. “He is a lefty and that is always a nice element to have on your team. He makes plays for a kid that doesn’t have a lot of basketball experience. It’s going to be interesting to see how he handles the big adjustment to the varsity level.

“Romero is athletic, but is also going to be challenged at the varsity level.”

Besides the opener with Westview, Bethany has games with West Noble, Lakeland, Triton and Elkhart Christian Academy before the Christmas break.

“Our schedule is typically front loaded and it’s going to be important for our young players not to get discouraged early on,” the coach said.

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