Posted On: 12/14/18 8:01 PM

Hazen didn’t win many games last year but they were close on multiple occasions. This year Hazen head coach Ben Nelson is hoping to change that. 

“We competed every night, we worked our tails off and just way too many times we ended up coming up short. Just not finishing, whether it’s a missed basket or a missed defensive assignment or a poor decision and get a turnover,” Nelson said.

“Whatever it was, they were just little things that seemed to make things unravel at the wrong time for us last year. We’re trying to focus on being mentally tough. And make sure when we get those opportunities we know how to finish.”

Returners

Hazen will have some size this year. Cullen Traiser is a 6-3 junior who is comfortable on the outside and Austin Richter is a 6-5 raw athlete who’s starting to come into his own. 

“Cullen is really comfortable on the outside shooting wise. Defensively, he’s going to have to play more inside. But offensively he is going to get some opportunities just because of our quickness. In our offense he’ll have some chances to play inside and outside depending on the matchup,” Nelson said.
Richter is more of an inside player who will be a defensive stopper and rim-runner.

“With Austin, he’s definitely more of an inside presence. Because of the scoring with our guards, we aren’t going to look for him to be a primary scorer at this point. If he can defend in the post and get rebounds for us,” Nelson said. “He’s very athletic besides his height. He is just an all-around athlete. So, if he can get out in transition that is going to create a lot of problems for people.”

Hazen top guards will be junior Garrett Ward, junior Isaac Doll and senior Jayce Zuern. Ward and Doll are both long 6-2 athlete who can play 1-4. Zuern is a quick 5-11 guard who is aggressive. All three are two-year starters. 

Depth 

Nelson said finding out how deep the rotation goes will determine if they play an up-tempo or slow it down style.  Hazen has the potential to be a team that can play nine different players. 
“At this point, I’m thinking probably similar as far as how much we push the pace on either end. It is going to depend on what happens with those 6-7-8-9 guys. If we get a lot of production out of some of those guys,” Nelson said.
“We have a lot of guys who played a lot of JV last year who might be ready to take the step with the varsity. Dylan Martell is a senior who played a lot of JV, Seth Olander too. They’re going to have to do it at the varsity level this year,” Nelson said.

Hazen’s depth questions are tough to figure out early in the year. There are some other JV players who may be ready to make the move to varsity as well. 

Hunter Truedson and Matthew Schneider are juniors who are in the same kind of boat and then sophomores Hunter Keller and Sawyer Reinhardt. They are guys who have JV experience last year.”

Tyson Van Inwagen is another player who might find a spot in the rotation. Van Inwagen got hurt last year and didn’t play much. But he’s a great athlete and might secure a rotation spot this season.

“Tyson VanInwagen is another one who is an athletic junior who got hurt last year. And is coming back from that knee injury. We think he can do a lot of good things for us too. It’s just, now, a matter of seeing what we look like this year,” Nelson said.