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2012-13 Winter Sports Preview: Hart to guide Miners again

Thursday, November 15, 2012

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A picture, roster and schedule was not available because of the length of the Miner football season.

When you discuss the upcoming season with Linton-Stockton boys basketball coach Joey Hart you get an immediate impression things are heading in an upward direction.

You get a feeling he believes his team is ready to take the next step in the maturation process, one that has been a while developing.

"We're showing some really positive signs," Hart said. "The lights aren't real bright yet and there's not officials or opposing fans in the stands."

With arguably the best inside tandem in the area with Dess Fougerousse and Austin Karazsia, Hart may finally have his team in a position to contend for the sectional title come March.

"We've looked forward to this, now we have to do it," Hart said. "I think our attitudes been really good, we seem to have grown up a little bit -- now we'll see if we can do it."

Part of that process has been a learning curve that saw the team increase their success as the seasons have progressed.

Now Hart wants to see that success factor come earlier in the year. Then perhaps, even more success will follow in the footsteps.

"We've played well in the second half of each season," Hart said. "I felt like we've gotten better all season and again that will be the goal to try and get better all season, even if we do have a veteran team."

A veteran team is what Hart is dealing with, one that has been limited in full capacity practices with the success of the Miner football team.

But he's not letting that deter his optimism or the positives that seem to fill the room when he discusses this year's squad.

Returning players affected by the football wait aren't as far behind as most fans would think, simply because they know what to expect when the time finally does come for them to trade in pads for sneakers.

"You take Austin, Jackson Bohnert, Beau Eaton and Zack Riddell," Hart said. "You take those four guys and Zack Johnson, they're all pretty big guys and none of it's new to them now."

Hart reinforces that thought with the knowledge that all have made appearances at practice and have a good idea what's going on now, in addition to years past.

"They're around, they know what's going on," he said. "I don't want to be too comfortable. When you get too comfortable sometimes you're not as sharp as you need to be."

Don't underestimate the entire team as it stands now, there's a comfort level present according to Hart.

"There's more comfort in the program as far as we know what to expect from each other," Hart said. "It seems like so far there's been a lot less tension.

"A lot of that comes from growing up together."

He says the growing pains that earmark a program when a new coach takes over are finally starting to fade into memory.

In their place is a knowledge of what the team is capable of accomplishing and what could lie ahead.

"We all have a tremendous opportunity now and we've had some kids put in some great work," he said. "Now it's time for them to try and enjoy the fruits of that labor."

When you ask Hart where the fruits will lead the team, he's cautiously optimistic.

"We have a great schedule," he said. "Some of our best opponents are on the road right away. Real early at Shakamak, at Sullivan weekend, it's good for us.

"At Eastern Greene, at North Daviess. Those are good games for us and we need those. They may hurt our record, but it's needed."

When you ask Hart what concerns him the most it comes down to a fairly simple and fundamental thing.

"Getting a shot," he said. "It's hard to score if you don't get a shot.

"If you turn we turn it over at 60 feet, at 80 feet or throw it off the wall, it's hard to score. We shoot a tremendous percentage when we have good shots."

Hart breaks that down to even simpler terms.

"If we keep our composure and not turn it over," he said. "You always worry about your perimeter defense as far as people attacking you, but if we get shots I think we're going to be pretty good."

Fougerousse (15.5 ppg) and Karazsia (15.3 ppg) bring a combined 30 plus points back for another year. Those numbers along with the likes of Bohnert's 3.4 ppg off the bench make the middle of the lineup dangerous enough.

"I think a lot of people would like to be Dess and AK oriented," Hart said when asked if the duo would anchor the squad. "Especially since I think they're both better.

"I'm excited for both of them and I'm excited for the team."

The Miners, who will be aiming for the school's first sectional championship since 1982, are slated to open the regular season on Saturday, Nov. 24 when they travel to Bicknell for a game with the North Knox Warriors.

Next would be a trip to Owen Valley on Nov. 30 and a Dec. 1 showdown at home with Bloomfield.

The status of those three games will remain unsettled until after the Miners football fates are decided according to Hart.

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