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Boys Basketball: New-look Wingers eager to get underway

Boys basketball in Red Wing is rich in history. A few months ago, the 2015-16 version added to that legacy with a third-place finish in the Class 3A state tournament. But the moment the final horn sounded, the program was without its head coach and most of the players that made up the core of the team graduated.

To say that this season, which begins Friday at Hastings, is a clean slate is an understatement.

Drew Olinger is taking over a program that has been at the top of the Big Nine Conference, knows the Mayo Civic Center well, and won two games at the Class 3A state tournament last year, and, well, that’s all in the past.

Olinger, who coached the Lake City girls team for a season before taking over the Wingers, wanted the challenge. Everything that the new coach wanted – a boys program at a big school with a gloried past – is present. What is not is almost all of the scoring and rebounding and defense from last year.

Red Wing scored 64.3 points per game last year, and 57.4 of that is in college. That’s 6.9 points returning, and it will come into a new system.

“It’s a little different than what they’ve seen in the past, a lot of five-out motion, guys cutting to different spots,” Olinger said. “We’re going to incorporate a lot of that, but we’ll work a lot with the posts, too. We’ll have the posts going in and out and have guys cut off those posts.”

Added Olinger, “We have a lot of guys willing to learn and try something different. They’ve seen the success of the past, but know that success could be this way, too. It’s not different in big concepts, it’s just getting guys in different positions on the floor. Getting guys new opportunities to score than in the past. It’s easier at times, it’s harder at times. It’s just a learning curve that has to happen.”

On the other end, changes will be more difficult to see.

“Defensively it’s going to be the mentality you’ve seen from Red Wing for a while. There will be a lot of ball pressure, forcing the opponent to make tough decisions,” Olinger said.

With so many new guys joining a small group of returning seniors in Kipp Adams (4.5 points per game, 1.5 rebounds per game and 1.0 assists per game), Christian Massett (2.3, 2.0, 0.8) and Jawon Terry (1.1 points per game), depth will be a key going forward.

“Ideally our rotation is that eight-to-ten guys, and when it’s playoff time or big games, maybe that seven or eight range,” Olinger said. “But there will be opportunities for guys to prove they can be in a specific role.”

Olinger said he saw the Wingers play last year, and said that the hustle and cohesion will be a focus again this year. And, if it all works out, another part of Red Wing’s past will be on display in February and March.

“Our biggest goal is to play our best basketball at the end of the year. What our best basketball looks like? That depends on how guys accept different opportunities in our system, and if shots fall or don’t fall and how guys handle adversity,” Olinger said. “We need to compete every night...If you come play Red Wing, it will be a tough game regardless of skill level or talent.”

Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
(651) 301-7879