Senior Alex Saltzer shot from the corner during a shooting drill for the Minneota Vikings. The device has a net above the rim to force players to shooter an arching shot. And it also features a ball carrier that shoots the balls out to the players. Photo for the Mascot by Byron Higgin.

Coach: ‘You’re never finished learning’

“Develop a network (of resources) — then use it.” That’s Coach Dave Busselman’s theory as he begins a new season — one in which the Vikings have already taken a heavy blow.

Junior Jacob Hennen is not eligible after going to school and transferring to Marshall, then returning to Minneota. The Minnesota State High School League is sticking by it’s “sit out a year” rule before allowing Hennen to return to the field and court in Minneota.

Hennen lost one appeal and will get another in December in an attempt to make himself eligible by January. But nobody’s holding their breath on the appeal and Busselman is moving ahead without his junior scorer and rebounder. Hennen is coming to practices in an attempt to help make his teammates better.

Meanwhile, Coach Busselman embarked on a learning experience, both for himself and for his players. “I need to learn, too,” he said, telling how he talks a lot of basketball with former Minneota B squad Coach Michael Bliss, who teaches in Kasson-Mantorville, plus former Minneota Coach Val Whipple, of whom Busselman replaced several years ago. Bliss is still a great resource because he knows the kids. “We talk a lot of basketball,” said Coach Busselman. Bliss coached the B squad for several years under Busselman.

The coach also uses former Viking Shane Hennen as a resource. Hennen is current the Coordinator of the Sanford POWER Basketball Academy at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. His job is basically player development.

“We use him as much as we can. Some of our kids have down there,” said Coach Busselman. One of them is senior point guard Riley Buysse, who missed two years with knee problems and returned to the team last year. And the coach also has used Shane Hennen as a resource.

“We talk a lot about offensive sets and drills,” Coach Busselman said. “If you’re not learning, you aren’t improving. Shane is interested in our program. He watches us on the CUBE and texts us a lot,” Coach Busselman added.

“All these people are interested in Minneota basketball and they keep involved,” said the coach. Coach Busselman admits, “We have some holes to fill. We’ve got some experience and some coming from the B squad.”

The nucleus is 6’ 3” center Logan Sussner, 6’ 3” forward Nolan Boerboom, 6’ 3” forward Alex Saltzer and guard Riley Buysse. The marked man by other teams will be Sussner, a powerful rebounder and scorer who often plugs up the middle and causes turnovers by the other team.

Boerboom is a solid shooter who has learned to crash the boards more and more. And Saltzer, a good athlete who can drive the basket plus shoot, gives the Vikings a solid group of players.

Buysse, who returned from two-years off due to knee injuries last year, has been playing AAU basketball and Coach Busselman says Buysse has vastly improved his skills. After that, a variety of up-an-coming athletes will compete for jobs.

There’s another tall prospect in Jacob Citterman, plus Braeden Panka and Joseph Rybinski.

And “down on the farm,” as they say in professional baseball, there’s a group who may give the Vikings a big boost. They include Cael Sorensen, AJ Myhre, AJ Josephson and Bishop Drietz.

The coach has his eye on this group and expects some, or all of them to get playing time.Some of the youngsters will share time on the B squad as well as the varsity.

But Coach Busselman isn’t selling short the talents of the AJ’s, Myhre and Josephson — both of whom have caught his attention.

“AJ Myhre can help us. He’s got a motor on him that keeps running,” said the coach. And at 6’4”, sophomore AJ Josephson is hard to ignore.

“We have a lot of kids who will go back and forth. We have 10 games in December so we’ll need players,” he said. As he searches for answers, it’s nice to know, “Logan Sussner is there and he’s the horse we go to. And he wants that role, too!” Busselman is hauling out a new offense.

Well, it’s the old “triangle” offense, but it will be new to Minneota.

It will center around Sussner. “We will go inside a little more,” he said. What makes that work is having Boerboom as another option when the opponents gather around Sussner. Then there’s Saltzer.

“We can do a lot with Alex because of his quickness. And he can shoot the ball.

He make get a chance to do that 20-25 times a game.” Riley Buysse will be the “distributor”, the guy who gets the ball inside and to the shooters. Another quick defender is Rybinski.

“He’s a defensive stopper,” said the coach. “We took his offense and tore it down and started all over again and he’s much improved,” Coach Busselman said.

As for Citterman, a 6’3” bruiser who played tackle in football, there’s a chance to meld him into the tandem with Sussner and Boerboom. “With those three on the floor at the same time, we’re going to be a tough match-up for opponents,” said the coach.

“Once we get things all figured out we’ll have a lot of options,” he added.

With so many options, the coach figures to, “Adjust as we go. We have enough weapons to adjust.” With the learning curve that’s necessary, the coach says he’d been happy with an 8-2 or even 7-3 record before the Christmas break.

“That would put us in good shape for the second half,” he added. Then there’s the unknowns and there may be some surprises. Bishop Drietz is a good shooter, “who needs confidence,” Cael Sorensen is, “Offensive minded and understands the game well,” and the 6’ 5” duo of the Regnier twins, Kolby and Kaleb, could also figure in the mix. Then there’s another player who has, “Improved so much and works so hard,” and that’s Grady Moorse.

“He’s put himself in a position where he’s going to get playing time. He has the right attitude, he understands his role and he helps with the younger kids,” said the coach.

There’s little doubt Moorse will earn time on the floor. It isn’t going to be an easy season. There’s the uncertainty of Jacob Hennen — since there is a small chance he could play.

And, the schedule is packed with good competition, like BOLD, Springfield, Jackson County Central and the usual Camden Conference contenders like MACCRAY, Canby, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton and others.

Just the same, the seniors on this team have been preparing for this all their lives. And the time is now!

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