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Seaman, Hunters hoping to learn home-court advantage

In the movie "Hoosiers," Gene Hackman gave his players a simple demonstration to prove that the game was the same regardless of the surroundings. The grizzled coach had his players drop a tape measure from the rim of the basket to the floor, and,...

In the movie "Hoosiers," Gene Hackman gave his players a simple demonstration to prove that the game was the same regardless of the surroundings. The grizzled coach had his players drop a tape measure from the rim of the basket to the floor, and, sure enough, it measured exactly 10 feet.
Obviously, Hackman never brought his Hickory squad to Duluth Denfeld's gymnasium, because if he would have, his demonstration would have backfired badly.
"They found out that one basket was like an inch higher than 10 feet, and that the other was about a half-inch lower," explained Denfeld's star forward Sean Seaman. "They," were the construction guys who helped rebuild Denfeld's gym over the summer, installing a new parquet floor and making sure that both rims were at exactly 10 feet when the renovation was complete.
"That should help," Seaman said.
As should the floor, which Seaman and his Hunters teammates have worked overtime to conquer.
"They've never had open gym before our season until this year," he said. "But the activities director opened it so we could get used to the new floor. At first it was a big adjustment. The ball was bouncing all over the place -- it was like a trampoline -- but we've adjusted well."
Which will be key for the Hunters this season because they're in an unfamiliar role as the Section 7AAA favorites, which means they'll need all of the home-court advantage they can get.
"I think we'll be one of the area's more dominant teams," said Seaman, who is already one of the area's most dominant players.
Alongside the 6-foot, 6-inch Seaman, Denfeld features the quartet of Steve Sandberg, Dave Morris, Matt Mobley and Matt Nyland. Joining that group soon will be Steve Morris and Jesse Salgy, making the squad one of the deepest and most experienced in the area. It's a mix that has Seaman excited about his team's chances following a heartbreaking overtime loss in the section semifinals last year.
"According to Minnesota Basketball News, we're the favorites in the section this year," he said. "But hopefully, we won't let it get to us. It's a little different being the favorite, but we've all improved, and our work ethic is better because our goals are set higher. This will be a big year for us."
Now a senior, Seaman will be making his final tour of the area high school hardcourts this winter. And, as the veteran of so many tough area games during his tenure, we asked him to give his insights on what each Duluth-area team has to offer in 2000-2001.
East Greyhounds
The story of the Greyhounds' 2000-2001 season may not be Rick Rickert by the time it's all said and done. The Gopher-to-be will get his points and everyone knows it, but his coach said that everything else he does will prove to be even more important by season's end.
"We hope Rick gets us more assists from seeing the double teams coming," said Bob Kunze, East's head coach. "He needs to slow down his game to see it coming. We want him to average 5-plus assists per game."
That means players like Greg Anderson and Ryan Crain will be asked to step into more prominent roles this year, as East's opponents lean more heavily on Rickert than ever before. Also in the mix for the 'Hounds will be Louis Wiggen, Luke Marsolek and possibly Rolando Peco, who transferred from Duluth Central.
"Peco has potential to play varsity," said Kunze. "How much time that is depends on him."
Seaman's slant: "Obviously a big game and a big rival. Even if you shut Rickert down, you have to worry about Anderson and Crain. They have so many weapons."
Proctor Rails
Longtime head coach Rory Johnson has a fine crop of veteran players that should be tough to stop in Section 7AA.
"We really think we can do some damage in the region," he said. "These guys are gym rats. They're intense, they're pretty smart, and they love to play basketball."
Leading the group are senior guards Mike Muckala and Scott Wojtysiak. Six-foot, 5-inch forward Brandon Delacey and guard David Sawyer, who both saw significant minutes last season as juniors, will join them.
"We're going to run and press and do a lot of different things," Johnson said. "But we've got to keep on improving -- especially with a lot of seniors. Our goal has always been to play hard ever since I've been here, and I think it's going to be a fun year."
Seaman's slant: "Ever since the traveling team days, Proctor has always been our rival because they're gritty. When Muckala and Wojtysiak hit 'threes' they're a tough team to put away, and Delacey has come a long way."
Central Trojans
The Trojans are rebuilding, and that process didn't get any easier with the loss of Louis Knox, who moved to Michigan. But the Trojans have passion, tradition and the duo of Matt Baumgartner and Justin Nelson on their side, which should provide some highlights this season.
Seaman's slant: "They struggled a little last year and they've got some kids who haven't played varsity, but their defense always seems to catch teams off guard. They're slow-paced, and it gets teams aggravated. I know they've done it to me a couple of times.
"They'll be a lot like their football team. Even though they may not win many games, they're a scrappy team that won't go away. As the season goes along, they'll get better."
Hermantown Hawks
There aren't any big-name superstars suiting up for the Hawks this season, but everyone in the area seems to think that the Hawks' experience will compensate nicely. Look for junior guard Thad Epperly to touch the ball often, and watch for 6-foot, 5-inch center Tyler Pavlowich banging in the paint.
Seaman's slant: "Epperly is a good player at the point. They've got some height, and they've got some role players who can get the job done. They should make a good run in Section 7AA."
Marshall Hilltoppers
The Hilltoppers feature some experience in the likes of seniors Jeremy King, James Eckman, Matt Bartoe, Aaron Benson, Karl Isensee, Nick Miller and Bo Banks. They also have star power, thanks to multi-sport standout T.J. Freeman who, at 6-foot, 3-inches can be a game-breaker. Add 6-foot, 7-inch sophomore Ian Kramer into the mix, and those who take the Hilltoppers too lightly could pay the price.
Seaman's slant: "You never know with Marshall. On a night when their 'threes' are on, they're tough, and with Freeman, he could always have a bust-out game."

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