Five storylines to follow: M-S boys' basketball gears up for its 2018-19 season

Mahomet-Seymour boys' basketball tips off on Monday on the road against Rantoul. M-S will have two weeks of practice in under new head coach Ryan Bosch, and the Bulldogs are antsy to lace them up for real.

M-S will have plenty of intrigue swirling around the program early in the season, with a new coach and plenty of fresh faces. Let's break down five interesting storylines to watch out for at the start of the season.

No. 1: Rippingdown rebounds

Bosch wants to push the pace at the right moments. Junior Grant Coleman can excel in the open floor, and the Bulldogs will have some fleet-footed guards that can get out into transition and wreak havoc.

But in order to play fast, M-S has to dominate the glass. At 6-foot-7, Coleman should be able to gather the boards, but he can't do it alone. Six-foot-four senior forward Lucas Turner can carve out a nice role if he can rebound. M-S has just three guys over 6-foot-3 on the roster, so it'll be important for the guards to chip in, too.

Jordan Veldman and Dawson Finch are two hard-nosed, scrappy guards who won't be afraid to mix it up inside. It'll be a team effort to rebound all year long, and could be the difference between a team that muddles in the middle of the Apollo Conference and one that has the upside of a regional championship team.

No. 2: Adjusting to life without Cory Noe and Noah Benedict

For the last two years, everything started and ended with Cory Noe. Losing a 1,500-point career scorer won't be easy to replace. The points will be tough, but Noe took up so much attention, which allowed Coleman to shine last year.

Now, the spotlight shifts to Coleman. He's the No. 1 option, and the defense will be keying on him all year.

Benedict will also be a key loss. The crafty forward rarely did anything wrong. He could push it in transition, guard the other team's best player, pass like a point guard and his basketball IQ was off the charts.

How quickly M-S can adjust to not having two of the best Bulldogs in recent years will be a key factor in the development early in the year. Plus, expectations may have to be tempered at the outset. Noe and Benedict were special talents.

No. 3: Second scorer?

Outsiders might look at M-S and think, "Well, who is going to score after Coleman?" It's a legitimate concern. Coleman is the only Bulldog who has experience getting buckets at the varsity level.

But Bosch isn't concerned about finding a second scorer.

"It's not going to be a season where it's Grant Coleman and a supporting class," Bosch said. "We're always going to be a team that shares the ball, and beats you however we have to beat you. While Grant is a good scorer on his own, it's not like we're not going to be able to generate shots for everybody else.

"The nice thing is that while Grant is a great player, everyone else is a little interchangeable, kind of like a Swiss Army knife. That does add to our depth, and it does help kids being able to buy into the fact that they will do a little bit of everything."

Kobe Essien, Cole Lener, Jack McHale, Veldman, Turner and Finch will all be in the mix to keep the defense honest. The development of senior Connor Kamphaus will be fascinating. Kamphaus has as much talent as nearly everyone on the M-S roster, but the senior guard is still getting back into the swing of things because he moved out of the district. Kamphaus wanted to finish up his career at Mahomet, and he's catching back up on the terminology. If he can get his bearings, Kamphaus could be a big-time difference-maker.

No. 4: How improved is Grant Coleman?

Coleman took that whole, "Get bigger, stronger and faster" thing to heart this offseason. Coleman is a couple inches taller, and he's vastly improved his game after a solid sophomore season.

Coleman can make Bulldog fans forget about Noe and Benedict real quick if he avoids the injuries and reaches his high ceiling. Coleman is a certified bucket-getter, and Bosch believes he'll compete at an even higher level defensively.

There's a reason colleges have been sniffing around Coleman. More will start calling with a big junior season.

No. 5: New coach, same system?

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Bosch knows that replacing veteran coach Chad Benedict won't be easy, and the transition with a new head man on the sidelines will be a thing to watch early in the season. Bosch's familiarity with the program helps immensely, and he'll certainly use some of Benedict's familiar principles, but there will be some added twists.

Benedict's teams were always extremely sound defensively, and Bosch is continuing that trend. Offensively, Bosch may have a few extra tricks up his sleeve.

M-S will play its home-opener next Wednesday against Danville.

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