ETV News stock photo by Dusty Butler
“I’ve been super impressed with their attitudes and how hard they’ve been working,” said Justice. Although the Spartans only have a handful of seniors, there are a number of talented underclassman that are expected to make an impact. Brett Rasmussen will be back from last year’s team along with Ryker Jensen, Jace Mangum and Kyson Curtis to name a few.
The guard positions could be interesting, however, as there are a number of players in the mix. “There’s a bunch of guards that are even right now, and it’s just like, ‘who is going to win that spot?'” stated Justice.
One aspect of focus for Justice and his staff is communication. “It’s important we are super clear with what their role is. Throughout the program, throughout the teams.” Justice continued, “We want to make [whatever the role is] a big deal, [so they can] go have fun and go compete. We want to give these kids lots and lots of playing time so they get better.”
Expect Emery to deploy its suffocating 2-3 defense that spectators and fans have grown accustomed to over the years. “The 2-3 will be our base and Rasmussen will be our rim protector.” But, Justice was quick to add that the 2-3 defense will not be the only defense that the Spartans run. “When teams start to hit threes, we have to be flexible.”
Offensively, Emery wants to move the ball effectively to create open looks. “The biggest thing on offense, I want these guys playing fast and shooting with confidence, getting to the rim, drive and kicks,” Justice began. “The biggest thing we’re trying to preach this year is sharing the ball.”
He went on by stating the importance of being patient while looking for an opening, but attacking when the opportunity presents itself. “First, what’s a good shot? And, if it’s a good shot, we’ve got to shoot it with confidence.”
There are a number of difficult opponents on the Spartans’ schedule. Emery will play the likes of Uintah, Juan Diego, San Juan and the reigning 3A State Champs, Juab, in the preseason, to mention a few. “I think we have a tough schedule,” Justice remarked. “We’re going to play some real good teams and hopefully we’ll get battle tested for our tough region.”
As per usual, Region 12 if full of talented teams. Coach Jared Butler and the Dinos have been building a solid program that gets better every year. Richfield is always competitive and the addition of Canyon View will only add fuel to the fire. Grand is tough to get a bead on and could be a “wildcard,” according to Justice.
“Obviously, our goal is to win the region,” he said. “I’m not going to say, ‘hey, we’re going to win region’. But, that’s what we want and that’s what we are working toward.”
While region is still a couple months away, the season is upon us. “I’m super excited,” concluded Justice.