The Blackmon family has moved on to Marion, so there have been changes in the Bishop Luers boys basketball program. The Knights and new coach J.J. Foster officially opened practice with the rest of the teams across the state Monday.
After flirting with the move for years, coach James Blackmon Sr. accepted the position in April and has taken sons James Jr., a senior who recently committed to IU, and sophomore Vijay, along to play for the Giants.
Everybody knows he took his two sons, and that’s a lot of points to leave the team, said Foster, who served as head coach of the girls programs at Harding and Wayne and was an assistant boys coach at both schools. I have been telling these guys what we are going to do, where’s one guy that scored a boatload, and we can even it out among 5 or 6 players. Whatever that total is, how you get there is what is important. We are going to do some things defensively and see how it works out. We are young, and we have some inexperience.
James Jr. averaged 33.3 points last year, while Vijay scored 12.5.
I feel like it is going to be an up-tempo game, more than just pass it to James and Vijay and let them make a play, junior Tyrell Johnson said of the new-look Knights. We are going to trap, run and get out and go.
Johnson and senior Austin Rybicki make up the experience returning for the Knights, who were 16-7 a year ago.
A lot of people are doubting us right now, and we have a young team, Johnson said. We don’t have any size, but we got a good base, nice speed and a lot of defenders. We are going to get the job done. We have a lot of good pieces. People think since James and Vijay left and they were a big part of our team, but we have other pieces who can step up this year. We should be pretty good.
Blackmon Sr., a 1983 Marion graduate, was also hired two years ago to be the Giants’ coach but changed his mind three weeks later and returned to Luers. He was 146-63 in nine years with the Knights, winning Class 2A state titles in 2008 and 2009, along with five sectional, three SAC tournament and two SAC regular-season titles. Luers had never won a sectional title before his arrival.
Recent history (Luers had) some players with some national recognition and was loaded with talent, said Foster, who was 56-75 overall coaching the girls at Harding (50-62 in six seasons) and Wayne (6-13 in one season). James did a great job, and I am looking to build off recent history.
The Knights will respond to the loss of the Blackmons with an outstanding freshmen class that includes Foster’s son, also named J.J., as well as Caleb Kroft, Naeko Braster and Jaylen Butz.
They are freshmen, but they are ready to play on the varsity level, Johnson said. They are used to it because they play in Spiece (Fieldhouse) leagues with us, so they should be ready.