Christopher took its lumps a year ago as the boys basketball team adjusted to a new coach and to his way of doing things.
Now Derek Jensen has had a full offseason to get to know his team and vice versa and he is expecting big things from the Cougars in 2017-18.
“I’m expecting really big things from them, not just because they’re older but because we’ve all been together for a year now and they know what I expect of them,” Jensen said. “They’re all great teammates.”
Christopher won’t be winning any contests of height, but Jensen expects his boys to make up for that with tempo on the floor.
“We are fast and we’re aggressive. Really aggressive. I mean really, really, really, really aggressive,” Jensen said. “I think that sets us apart. You don’t see that many teams who play that good of defense. I think that’s what separates us and it’s a whole team effort.”
Leading that tempo will be guard Dean Tognetti, who is coming off a season where he was second on the team in scoring and has only gotten better, Jensen said.
“His work ethic is insane and he’s blessed with just blazing quickness that most people like him don’t have,” Jensen said. “He is not just fast, he’s blazing quick and that really separates him. I expect him to have a monster senior year.”
Eric Ortega played small forward last year but has to move to center. Jensen said because Ortega is not playing his natural position, he expect there to be a mismatch under the basket with Ortega using his speed to confound other centers.
And in taking that role, Jensen said Ortega is really showing how much he’s grown.
“Eric has flipped a whole 180. He has matured so much,” Jensen said. “He has become the vocal leader on the team, in a positive way. He’s the one who wants to speak up and help guys get better and motivates them.”
Christopher kicked things off on Nov. 20 with a sportsmanship game against Gilroy where the Cougars’ speed and depth resulted in a 72-29 win.
The Cougars officially opened the season against Trinity Christian on Tuesday night.
Jensen said he has given the green light to all his players to get after it on the court, whether it’s taking an open shot, setting up a trap or play aggressive defense.
“I really trust my group,” Jensen said. “They know the game well enough that I don’t have to call out a play every time. I don’t have to call out a defense. We’re just going to do what we do and we’re going to do it better than every other team. I don’t have to do much more than get them organized.”
Jensen said he wants to keep his eye on freshman Dunkin Ellis who is tall and lanky and could really make an impact on teams this year.