Fostering cohesion is what Dripping Springs head boys basketball coach Craig Swannack hopes can result in success for the Tigers in 2016.
While only two starters return, Swannack said the team, which blends junior varsity players with varsity talent, has bought into the concept that family is key.
“Mixing two groups together, it’s about having a family environment and having us all pull forward in one direction and one unit,” Swannack said. “They understand they’re here for one purpose and that’s playing as a team and playing together.”
Dripping Springs, which went 15-18 in 2015, returns several players including senior Nick Breen, Harley Preston and Cullen Young.
Breen was selected as second team all 25-5A last year despite playing only half of the district slate due to injury. Preston, who is the team captain, improved “dramatically over the summer,” Swannack said.
“(Preston) had a great first half of the season but missed the second half due to injury,” Swannack said. “We’re happy to see them both on the floor and playing Tiger basketball again.”
Also joining the group of returners is McKenly O’Neal, who will participate following the conclusion of the football season.
“We have solid returners from last year,” he said. “We are excited to see what’s to come.”
Swannack said ensuring everyone stays disciplined is also a critical attribute. But doing the “little things right all the time” is an equally important factor as well.
Fundamentals to focus on include blocking out, making sound passes and taking easier shots, Swannack said.
“We want to put good habits in place so they’re permanent before we get into the district schedule, before we look at the outcome of games,” Swannack said.
District play will also be a change of pace for the Tiger team as well.
After six years of playing the likes of Cedar Park, Vista Ridge and Leander, the Tigers shift their district focus south to Alamo Heights, Boerne Champion and Kerrville Tivy.
All three of the latter teams reached the postseason in 2015.
“I think we’re excited about this new district, but one of the concerns is we know the travel is going to be tough and the schedule is a challenge,” Swannack said.