Last year around this time, Peninsula High boys basketball coach Matt Robles was still in California. Having just accepted the position with the school, he hadn’t even moved up to the state yet. So the head coach was stuck watching the team’s summer league games on YouTube.
This year? He’s in attendance at all the team’s games at Curtis High School. It’s safe to say he prefers it that way.
“Just how far we’ve come in the past year has been really fun to watch,” Robles said. “The guys have picked up everything.”
Robles had to replace an entire starting five during his first season. This year, he’s got a good core of veterans to build his team around.
The team’s focal point will be 6-foot-4 senior-to-be Seth Kasteler, who put on over 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason and looks more confident and more aggressive than ever.
“I’m playing with a lot more confidence,” Kasteler said. “It’s my second year being the centerpiece of the offense and defense. I’m able to work harder and just trust in my teammates more.”
He’s not being boastful when he speaks about being the centerpiece of the team. It’s something that Robles acknowledges, and the two have had discussions about.
“He’s really grown, physically, obviously, and then just his basketball sense has grown,” Robles said. “He’s got a lot of confidence. He knows he’s going to be our go-to guy when we need a bucket. And everyone knows that. He knows — we’ve had a lot of conversations — it’s very clear that he’s going to be the guy, but with that, there’s the responsibility of he’s got to be the hardest worker, the toughest guy. He’s stepped up and accepted that challenge. So it’s been a lot of fun to watch. I think everyone sees that confidence on the floor.”
While Peninsula has won the majority of its games in the summer league, the coaching staff is generally more concerned about overall development and implementing new strategies.
“I think we’re a lot farther with the system,” Kasteler said. “We kind of know what Coach wants now, how to move the ball, play defense and do everything he wants us to do.”
Robles said his main coaching points this summer are being tougher and more unselfish.
“We’re tweaking our offense a little bit, getting a little more movement,” Kasteler said. “We’re emphasizing playing hard, playing smart and we’ve got to be tougher than all other teams. It doesn’t happen every night. We want to share the ball. The ball is moving all over the floor. That’s what we’re going to hang our hat on this year. This group really likes each other and gets along and it’s starting to show this summer.”
Kasteler is one of several returning upperclassmen, along with guards Elijah McLaughlin, Jared Brinkman and Sam Miller, to name a few.
“We’re able to build off each other and work with each other,” Kasteler said.
Having that core group to build around has made life a bit easier this offseason for Robles.
“It’s great,” he said. “The boys know what we’re trying to accomplish. I just think the leadership from our seniors has been outstanding and has made our jobs as a staff easier to do. Those guys know what we want to do, they’re taking control, taking ownership and they’re just teaching the young guys and they’re running with it. I think that’s why we’ve had a little success this summer. For us, we’re just fans and we’re just cheering them on. It’s a really good spot to be in.”