TONTOGANY — Coming off a season in which they went 9-15 overall and 5-9 inside the NBC, Otsego boys basketball is looking to have their successful football season translate over to the hardwood this season.
With seven players coming over from the gridiron for the Knights this season, finding players that are going to be directly involved in that transition won’t be hard.
One of those key players is reigning second team All-NBC pick and football standout Joseph Dzierwa.
Dzierwa, a 6-foot-6 junior averaged 13 points last year for the Knights, good for second on the team.
“When you’re an underclassman and you are thrown into a 22-game season against big bodies, the physical and mental part can definitely get to you over time,” Otsego head coach Jim Bostdorff said about Dzierwa. “I think he’ll step up this year and really be a leader for us.”
Not only is Dzierwa expected to have to step up scoring wise to replace their leading scorer and first team All-NBC pick Noah Kiefer from last year, the junior is also going to be asked to play a big role on the boards. He averaged 4.5 rebounds last season as a sophomore.
“We need to defend a little bit better and he’s going to have to rebound for us, he’s 6-foot-6, so he’s going to have to rebound for us,” Bostdorff said.
Joseph isn’t the only Dzierwa in the family that is going to have to make an impact for the Knights to be successful. The Dzierwas were key players on the football team, which won an NBC championship for the first time since 2005 this season and made it to the state final four,
Noah Dzierwa is going into his senior season, and he will play point for the Knights. Last season as a junior he averaged 2.5 points per game. That number is going to have to go up for the Knights to find themselves at the top of the NBC, but it isn’t the only thing that he can do.
“Noah is just a really great leader that is going to get the ball where it is supposed to go,” Bostdorff said.
The talent coming over from the football field doesn’t stop there either as Ryan Gray, a 6-foot-2 senior who averaged 3.5 points a game last season will also be needed to step up as well.
Football season is over and not everything done on a football field translates over to the basketball court.
“Getting them late with the football thing is a good thing — those kids there had some success and worked through the adversity of this season,” Bostdorff said. “Seven of our varsity players were football players. Them coming back over there from having a successful year and bringing the leadership that they do we hope that that has an effect on us as well. Right now we are trying to get a little bit of the football out of them, we are not very graceful right now.”
The Knights will also get a transfer from Perrysburg in senior Ryan Dennis. Dennis transferred over to Otsego last season but was only able to play 11 games. Because of that, Bostdorff and the rest of the coaching staff decided to put him on the JV squad.
While on JV, Dennis averaged 19.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in those 11 games and Bostdorff really believes that he has a chance to make a big impact for the Knights this season.
“Ryan is a 6-foot-5 senior who has some serious scoring ability and is someone that we think is going to have a good year for us,” Bostdorff said.
(This story was not part of Saturday’s preview, due to the Otsego football team’s late-season play.)