Chris Ingels knows there will plenty of eyes on him as he makes his head coaching debut for Southwestern Tuesday in Edinburgh.
Ingels, who has coached baseball and cross country at Southwestern as well as serving as junior varsity basketball coach for nine seasons, can vividly recall his playing days as an Edinburgh Lancer and head coach Steve Todd telling him he would be a good coach someday.
Todd’s inclination was correct as Ingels has found success coaching through various sports. But Tuesday night at his alma mater, Ingels will finally be a head coach of a boys basketball program.
“I have interviewed for a couple of (boys basketball) positions when I probably wouldn’t have been ready for it,” said Ingels. “This is something I always wanted and worked toward but once I became a baseball coach (at Southwestern), I told (head basketball coach and athletic director) Brady Days I was not in any hurry to be a basketball coach.”
That all changed when Days surprisingly announced his impending departure from Southwestern after 16 seasons as a head coach with a program-record 153 wins and three sectional championships.
“His voice was always there and he knew how everything went,” said Ingels of Days’ tenure.
Not only is Days gone from the program, but graduation took Aiden Hartsell (22.1 points per game) and Jordan Jones (19.6 ppg). No other Spartan averaged more than 4.4 ppg last season.
“We are definitely a work in progress but we have a lot of good pieces,” said Ingels. “We have three seniors who all have played quite a bit of varsity minutes last year. We are expecting a lot from them.”
Senior Matthew Clements steps into the leadership role this season. He averaged 4.4 ppg and a team-leading 5.3 rebounds as a junior.
“He is one of the better athletes on the floor most nights,” said Ingels. “He has improved his offensive game. And he may have to guard the other team’s best player most nights.”
Senior Jonah DeArmitt will find himself in the unique position as the focal point of running the offense. With his six-foot, four-inch frame, DeArmitt can get established in the low post and work or kick the ball out to the shooters.
“We have got to get the ball to him,” said Ingels. “We have to play through him. That will be a little change for us to play through the post.”
Carter Snepp, a 6-3 junior, is ready for a bigger role with the varsity program.
“Nobody has worked harder or put more time in than him,” said Ingels. “He is shooting the ball well. We expect a lot from him.”
The program gets considerably younger after that trio and senior Connor Jewell. Ingels will look at sophomores Ben Kahler, Eli Stone, Michael Clements and Kaden Barlow and freshman Carter Cooley to fill out the rotations.
“Kahler will do a little bit of everything. … Stone is great defensively and takes care of the ball. … Clements is an athlete that can finish around the basket,” said Ingels.
For Southwestern to have success, it must find a way to score points consistently.
“We have guys that can shoot the ball,” said Ingels. “We have to space around Jonah. We want to play through the paint. We just don’t have the speed to drive so we have to throw it in and move and play off that.”
A collective defensive effort could help the offense score points.
“We’ve had some great athletes the last several years,” said Ingels. “We have a little more length this year which can help us defensively. We may play a little more zone with our length.”
Ingels admits there will be some anxious moments leading up to his head coaching debut Tuesday at Edinburgh. He also knows there will be plenty of familiar faces in the stands to show support – including Brady Days.
“I think I will be nervous for every game but it will be a little different playing where I went to school and grew up,” he said. “This was always on my mind. I know a couple of my coaches will be there. And coach Days will be there.
“It will be a fun but stressful time.”
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