Boys hoops ready for tipoff

Robinson works to expand role

D.J. Wells takes a shot from the court during basketball practice at Grand Junction High School.


Grand Junction Tigers

Head coach: Dutch Johnson, 11th season

Last season: 18-6, 9-1 Southwestern League

Key returners: Senior Broderick Robinson (SWL player of the year); junior D.J. Wells (first-team All-SWL); senior Greg Eccher; senior Trenton Soriano.

An even better Broderick Robinson means an even better Grand Junction High School boys basketball team this season.

Head coach Dutch Johnson, in his 11th year with the Tigers, said Robinson will a better player after an offseason of working on the little things.

“Broderick is so good with the ball in his hands,” Johnson said. “He’s gotten much better this offseason off the ball, coming off screens and finding ways to score without the ball in his hands.”

The senior guard has always been great handling the ball and dishing off to teammates, but Johnson said he thinks his game will be much improved this year.

With two All-Southwestern League players back this season in Robinson, who was league’s player of the year, and junior D.J. Wells, Johnson said the Tigers will revolve around them.

“We have a good 1-2 punch with those guys and we will put three good players around them,” he said.

The 6-foot Robinson averaged 15.6 points and 5.2 rebounds a game, and Wells, a 6-7 forward, averaged 11.4 points and 6.2 rebounds a game.

One thing missing from this year’s team will be overall size.

“We’re a little guard-heavy this year,” Johnson said, “so defense and rebounding is what we’re focusing on.”

Last year, he said they had two or three big guys the Tigers relied on to handle the rebounding and plug the middle on defense.

Robinson said the team will bring a lot of quickness and athleticism to the court.

“I think we will be able to get up and down (the court) better than last year,” he said.

He added that he’s not too worried about the lack of height.

“We have to be tougher and more physical with teams this year, and we will be faster and more athletic,” he said.

Johnson said they have at least three guards who can handle the ball well and can bring the ball up the court, and that will free up Robinson to work away from the ball.

Greg Eccher returns at guard, and Johnson said that he could have easily been an all-league selection last year.

Senior Trenton Soriano is good shooter with varsity experience.

Johnson said they have a number of good shooters on the outside and Wells will be a major force on the inside.

As far as launching the long ball, Johnson said they “won’t live and die” by the 3-pointer.

The Tigers are geared to push the tempo and will run whenever they get the chance.

Right now he sees a very unselfish, team-oriented squad.

“They are playing really well together and are very unselfish, sometimes too unselfish,” he said. “This is one of the better passing teams I’ve had.”

He also said Robinson and Wells are playing well together and that adds a nice inside-outside threat, which will be a big factor as they the season goes on.

With good athletes with great quickness, the Tigers will look to run and gun when they can. Johnson said he doesn’t think the lack of size will be a huge factor because of their quickness and team play.

The Tigers went 18-6 last season and won the league with a 9-1 record. They played well in the Class 5A playoffs before being ousted by Regis in the second round.

Johnson said expectations for 2013-14 are high for the Tigers

Grand Junction has one of the most dynamic players on the Western Slope in Robinson and one of the league’s top forwards in Wells, and that should carry them to another good season in Southwestern League play.


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