DANVILLE — There is no substitute for experience.
Danville boys basketball coach Ted Houpt knows this all too well as he begins his second season with the Vikings.
"I know what's coming this year,'' he said. "I didn't know what was coming last year. All the basketball years in your life can't prepare you for actually being there and experiencing it.''
That combination of a first-year coach, a team with limited varsity experience and a very difficult schedule resulted in a 5-21 season for Danville High.
"It was a bad year, but it was also a good year for our team,'' said Danville senior Denzel Smith, the Commercial-News Player of the Year last season. "It showed us what we did wrong, and the things we needed to get corrected.
"We understand that we have to grind harder to get wins.''
Smith, who averaged 15.6 points and 7.0 rebounds a game, is one of three returning starters this season for the Vikings, joining senior guard Kylen Butler and senior forward Jarhed Watson.
"Denzel Smith is one of the best players in the state,'' Houpt said. "He has shown that he has matured a great deal and he wants to be a leader. He is showing that leadership quality in practice as he is winning sprints. That will make a big difference. When you have your best player on board and outworking everyone, it makes it easier to coach.
"Kylen Butler is one of the most dedicated athletes that I've seen in years. He did a lot of good things a year ago and this year he will run the offense. He knows offense, front and back. He is very dependable. Jarhed Watson has great talent, and he played well in bursts for us a year ago. I think with consistent minutes, this year, he can surprise people.''