With a new coach at the helm, the Verona boys basketball team is looking to surprise teams in the Big Eight Conference this season.
Eddie SIngleton begins his first year as the Wildcats head coach after serving as a freshman coach and varsity assistant at Madison La Follette for four years.
“I was so locked in to being the best coach I could be,” Singleton said. “I thought I was a few years away from being a varsity head coach). I’m just appreciative of it, embracing it and making sure I’m getting these guys to buy into a new system and help build the culture.”
Verona went 7-16 and finished eighth in the Big Eight last year with a 6-12 mark. The Wildcats lost to Division 1 state runner-up Sun Prairie 50-38 in a regional game last year, and finished 2-5 in games decided by six points or less.
“I’m not sure where we will finish at the end of the race with so much talent and coaching experience in the Big Eight, and myself being a first-year varsity coach,” Singleton said. “We simply hope to challenge our competition every night and get better throughout the season. We just have to control the things we can control and punch the clock ready to work hard.”
Singleton will have the Wildcats run a motion offense with dribble-drive action.
“It won’t be too overcomplicated,” he said. “We are asking guys to be players and work hard. We are going to get up and down the floor.”
Senior forward Malik Odetunde (9.1 points per game last season and senior guard Haakon Anderson (7.9 points per game) are Verona’s two returning starters. Senior forward Adam Bekx (5.1 points per game last season), junior guard Cam McCorkle (2.2 points) and junior forward James Rae (2.0 points) are returners who could step into larger roles this season.
One newcomer who could provide a boost down low is 6 foot-7 senior center Trevin Lieck, who did not play last year. The Wildcats will also look to two freshmen — Michael Comber and Gavin Farrell — to play valuable minutes.
Singleton said La Follette is the favorite to win the Big Eight title, and Sun Prairie will be a title contender. He pegged defending conference champion Madison East as a dark horse to repeat. The Purgolders are led by senior Anthony Washington, who was an all-state honoree last season after averaging 16.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.