Mehlville boys set sights on winning season

By ROBERT CHALUPNY

For the Call

The Mehlville Senior High School boys’ basketball team is looking to build a winning record for the 2011-2012 season.

The Panthers, who were 10-14 last season and lost to rival Lindbergh in districts last year, are led by head coach Andy Guethle, who is entering his ninth season at the helm.

Mehlville was set to tip off against Lutheran South in the 2011-2012 opener Monday night — after the Call went to press.

Guethle told the Call he believes his squad will have a better year.

“I think we have a chance to be better than last year in terms of record-wise,” the Mehlville coach said. “We’ve got some good players and seniors that have played and been through it, so I have high expectations for the team.

“We are battling a lot of injuries right now and it’s kind of slowed us down a little bit in the preseason … But our offense has not changed a lot since last year, just motion offense — so a lot of the same rules and principles … I am hoping that they have that to fall back on. There will be a quick learning curve for those guys that have been injured, but I am expecting us to be successful.”

Guethle certainly will lean on his seniors, his top performers from last year, with the goal of repeating their performances.

Adis Mjuakic was a Second Team All-Conference player last season while Brendan Merz was an All-Conference player.

Other top performers from last year include Armin Toric, Cameron Stoner, Aaron Onkle and Austin Herbert.

The Panthers have offense as their strength to start the season, according to Guethle.

“I think we are going to be better shooting the basketball,” he said. “I think we can shoot the ball fairly well. Adis is about a 6-6 post player, but he can play inside and outside, so he’s pretty versatile. He’s pretty tough. He can be a tough matchup.

“Like I said, I’ve got some guys that can really shoot the basketball, so I think that will definitely be a strength.”

The coach told the Call he would like to see improvement in his team’s defensive toughness.

“Probably our weakness right now in these first three weeks is our toughness on defense … Obviously as a coach, you’re nervous about how we’re going to guard, but we’ve been working on that. I think we improve on that, Guethle said.

“We’re just going to have to do a better job at communicating on defense. You know, being in the right position willing to take charge and that type of stuff … That’s what’s going to propel us to be good defensively. We are not going to be probably quicker than a lot of teams that we play, so we are going to have to beat them between the ears.”