New head coach, same high expectations for Seneca boys basketball

The Golden Eagles have hopes for another winning season one year after advancing to the sectional final for the first time.

Seneca head coach Jeff Weiler sets up a drill at a preseason practice. Formerly an assistant coach within the program, Weiler is serving as the varsity head coach for the first time this season.

There will be some new faces in the starting lineup and on the sideline for Seneca High School boys basketball this season.

However, expectations aren’t being lowered one year after the Golden Eagles’ first-ever trip to the South Jersey Group III finals

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Seneca is coming off a 17-win season in 2017–18 in which the team earned the №2 seed in the South Jersey Group III tournament and reached the finals, where they fell to Delsea Regional High School. This year’s team will have a much different look as Seneca lost more than half of its starters from last year to graduation.

The changes with Seneca begin at head coach, as long-time assistant coach Jeff Weiler will lead the varsity team this year. Weiler is new to the varsity head coach position, but mentioned he is very familiar with the current group of players as he coached all of them in recent years while serving as coach of the freshman team.

“We all love Coach Weiler and we all loved playing for him in the past,” junior Johnny Kennevan said. “We’re excited to keep playing for him this year.”

Despite the familiarity, there are a lot of adjustments Weiler will have to make this season. Seneca returns just two starters, Kennevan and fellow junior Malin Jasinski, to its lineup.

“Filling the three other roles of the starters that graduated, it’s tough,” Weiler said. We have some seniors fighting for spots, some other juniors.”

“Our seniors this year didn’t get as much playing time (as juniors) last year because we were just so senior heavy,” Weiler added. “This year, they’re anxious to get on the court and hopefully they can contribute in any way they can.”

Kennevan said he realizes he and Jasinski will have to be leaders on the court, but he also looks forward to some of the seniors stepping up as well.

“Malin and I are both going to rely on our teammates,” Kennevan said. “We still have four seniors that we look up to and we’ve looked up to since we were little. We’re going to rely on them to lead the team, but we both have to take our roles to lead the team (too).”

Weiler believes Jasinski and Kennevan’s experience will allow them to step naturally into a leadership.

“They’re vocal leaders already on the floor,” Weiler said. “They have the quality experience of starting. So I think players are going to automatically look to them for things.”

Seneca will be changing its playing style a bit from last year as well. While Weiler and his players were coy about specifics on the changes, Jasinski said the team is looking to play a more “run and gun” style of basketball.

“This year, we have a real good offense with getting up the floor quicker,” Jasinski said.

“We are limited with our size,” Weiler added. “We’re going to try and find ways to compensate for our lack of size.”

Despite having a number of new starters in the lineup, Seneca still believes it can be a playoff contender in South Jersey Group III. Weiler said expectations are going to remain high not only this season, but in the years ahead.

“I feel like we should be where we were last year,” Weiler said. “We should be competing, making playoffs, getting home playoff games. We have the kids in our program to do so. Our feeder programs have been improving and that’s pretty much where it all begins.”

“Expectations are still the same,” Jasinski added. “We still expect to do just as well (as last year). Our players need to know we need to step up as a group.”

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