Greenmen boys look for improved record with four returning letter winners

Jonah Rosenblum
Kent Weeklies
Gabe Elsawy shoots a 3-pointer against Revere.

Head Coach: Greg Rodi (1st season, 0-0)

Assistant Coaches: John Mitchell, Dominic DeMartini, Deion Morrison

Returning Letterwinners (4): Gabe Elsawy, Mason Bizjak, Logan Keilin, John Ugran

Letterwinners Lost (5): Ethan Hays, Lenny Feckner, Jack Deptola, Reece Herendeen, Jack Roche

New Aurora varsity boys basketball coach Greg Rodi.

2019-2020 Record: 7-17 (1-13 Suburban American)

OVERALL

Logan Keilin puts up two points against Mayfield in a December 2019 game.

New Greenmen coach Greg Rodi has a clear focus as he takes over the program.

"Our culture," Rodi said. "Coming in as a new coaching staff, it was important that we establish a strong culture from day one."

So far, so good, per Rodi.

"These young men bought in early on to the culture we wanted to establish and we are starting to see the results on and off the court," Rodi said. "They are strong in the understanding and commitment to our view that culture wins consistently, not talent."

Still, the Greenmen do return significant talent as Gabe Elsawy was a deadly scorer last year. With two returning starters in the backcourt in Elsawy and Mason Bizjak, Aurora should be steady up top.

The key is replacing the scoring punch lost with the graduation of Ethan Hays (21.5 points per game, 44 percent from deep) and finding the bodies to compete down low after losing bigs like Lenny Feckner.

And, of course, simply learning a new system in the midst of a pandemic. 

Logan Bizjak leads a fast break against Mayfield in a December 2019 game.

"My biggest cause for concern this year is getting our players up to speed on new offensive and defensive philosophies," Rodi said. "Our players have high basketball IQs, but working through this process, in the middle of a pandemic, makes it a bit more of a concern than it would have been under a more 'normal' coaching staff transition."

BACKCOURT

(all quotes are from coach Greg Rodi)

Aurora's "varsity experience is in our backcourt," where the Greenmen return "senior leadership" that "will help us as we change the overall direction of our program." They are led by a pair of returning starters in Gabe Elsawy and Mason Bizjak, with tBizjak fresh off an all-Ohio soccer campaign.

Aurora's Tavion Pride, left, and Hudson's Isaiah Powell work for position on a rebound during a boys basketball scrimmage.

FRONTCOURT

(all quotes are from coach Greg Rodi)

Per Rodi, "What we lack in experience in our frontcourt, we will make up for with effort and attitude." The Greenmen "have a mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen who are all hungry for an opportunity to help our team."

UPDATED SCHEDULE

Aurora's Gabe Elsaway, right, directs the offense during a boys basketball scrimmage against Hudson.

January

5 — at Copley

12 — Tallmadge

15 — at Kent Roosevelt

19 — Kenston

22 — at Barberton

23 — at Tallmadge

29 — at Medina Highland

February

2 — Twinsburg

5 — at Nordonia

9 — Chagrin Falls

12 — Revere

16 — at West Geauga, 7 p.m.

19 — Copley

Junior varsity for all games to begin at 6 p.m. with varsity to follow at approximately 7:30 p.m. unless noted (5:30/7).

 FRESHMAN SCHEDULE

January

5 — at Copley, 4:30 p.m.

7 — at Kent Roosevelt, 6 p.m.

12 — Tallmadge, 4:30 p.m.

19 — Kenston, 4:30 p.m.

22 — at Barberton, 4:30 p.m.

23 — at Tallmadge, 4:30 p.m.

29 — at Medina Highland, 4:30 p.m.

February

2 — Twinsburg, 4:30 p.m.

5 — at Nordonia, 4:30 p.m.

9 — Chagrin Falls, 4:30 p.m.

12 — Revere, 4:30 p.m.

16 — at West Geauga, 4 p.m.

19 — Copley, 4:30 p.m.

Schedules subject to change.

Jack Cardaman handles the ball for Aurora in a boys basketball scrimmage against Hudson.