Robert Wanek Jr. - Director, Breck Sports talk
• Junior Perez (5’7” PG), Senior
2019 Stats (4.4 pts, 2.8 reb, 2.4 ast, 1.3 stl)
Francisco “Junior” Perez is a spark on the court. He’s a quick defender who moves well laterally when guarding ball handlers, cuts off opponents without fouling. His small stature helps him sneak into the lane and take charges. He wasn’t a scoring threat last season, but showed great finishing skills with either hand when he chose to drive inside. He uses spin off the glass to release layups past the reach of taller and longer defenders.
• Jonah Christensen (6’2” C), Senior
2019 Stats (15.1 pts, 10.0 reb, 2.5 ast, 1.3 stl)
Jonah has some of the best footwork of any post player in Minnesota. He finishes at a high rate with both hands, using a full arsenal of moves — baby hook, up-and-under, step through. Outside shooting is streaky, but he passes well, looking into the lane when outside the arc. His rebounding is premium, he’s able to high-point the basketball and corrals the rock instead of tipping it or using one hand. Draws fouls as good as any big in minnesota. Height is not a disadvantage for Jonah. He’s had big games against seven footers.
• Cooper Yaggie (6’0” G), Senior
2019 stats (18.6 pts, 3.6 reb, 2.5 ast, 1.2 stl)
Two-way dynamo. His strength helps him move well and act as a brick wall on defense. Stronger than nearly all guards. He’s extremely fast in transition, can go coast-to-coast or outrun the defense for long outlet passes. Too many and-ones to count as a junior, he finishes at a premium through contact. Developed a consistent outside shot but needs improvement on midrange and floater game. Can score in bunches, put up 30 points in one half last season.
• Anthony Conzemius (6’7” F), Senior
2019 Stats (4.7 pts, 4.6 reb, 0.7 blk)
Skilled rim protector, shows excellent timing on blocks and contests. Improved his strength and bounce in the offseason. Uses his length to convert hook shots but needs to show an ability to let it fly when open in the midrange. Has connected on three pointers when he steps outside. Tenacious rebounder who truly wants the ball more than opponents, nightly double-digit rebound threat who can be a serious threat to score with more aggressiveness.
• Christian Nieto (6’1” G/F) Senior
2019 Stats (5.4 pts, 3.1 reb)
Nieto just underwent surgery for a knee/leg injury but avoided major structural damage and hopes to return during the latter part of the season. He’s blazing quick off the bounce, getting to the rim and rising before defenders can get to the contest point. Smooth pull-up game with the hops to rise above shot blockers on his jumpers. Three-point shot is silky. Indifferent at times on defense, needs to improve stance and defensive stamina. Played sparingly to start the 2019 season but carved out a significant role towards the end. Team player who is poised to help Breckenridge take a step forward towards section playoff time.
• Adam Ohm (N/A G) Senior
2019 Stats (6.6 pts, 35% 3pt)
Lights out three-point sniper. His streaky percentages from beyond the arc in 2019 were simply an anomaly. He’s a catch-and-shoot aficionado and plus defender. Ohm is a volume shooter from the outside, sometimes it takes a couple attempts for him to warm up but when he steps into a rhythm he can really drain the three ball and stretch the defense. Undersized defender but works hard to keep his man outside the perimeter. Primarily a shooting threat last season, rarely used to facilitate assists.
• Reese Pederson (N/A G/SF) Senior
2019 Stats (1.5 pts, 1.8 reb)
Reese has excellent length that allows him to “glide” to the rack on dribble drives. He can extend to finish past defenders who are seemingly right there with him. He saw limited minutes in 2019 but is a candidate to crack the starting lineup in 2020, or provide meaningful minutes off the bench. He’s a creative scorer who can use quirky releases to score inside. Can’t be left alone outside the arc but hasn’t had enough court time to solidly himself as a consistent three-point threat.
• Sebastian Anderson (6’0”, G) Senior
2019 Stats (1.2 pts, 0.8 reb)
Sebastian, like Reese, is a tough player to project. He has plus athleticism, average to above average jumping ability. Anderson is in the midst of an excellent defensive football campaign and has the physical tools to carry that over to the court as a lockdown defender. His visible frustration was a downside at times, but great repertoire with his senior teammates and a chance for more court time should offset that.
Robert Wanek Jr. - Director, Breck Sports Talk
The beginning of each sports season presents many challenges, and I mean that in a positive sense. One of the most delicate processes is the “Earned Respect” dynamic of coaching. Simply put, your players do not care what you know, until they know you care. Experience, knowledge, accolades — are irrelevant to our adolescent athletes at the starting line of a season.
This part of the process has been especially important to me while coaching baseball at the junior high school level. Before perfecting execution and performance, even before the fundamentals, we must double-down on building a family atmosphere and culture for our team. We’ve all had a coach who labored in remembering names and details of his players. Do not be this coach. If you don’t have a special interest in every student athlete under your wing, you will lose the room, and lose the opportunity to build a cohesive group in a matter of days.
We have to remember that our athletes are still kids and with that comes a behavior curve. We meet that obstacle with a character curve, which starts with us coaches. When our younger players aren’t following directions or seem disinterested, they aren’t disrespecting us or acting out, they’re getting a feel for your level of care and gauging how invested you are in their time and effort. Yelling and shaming players at practice is the most archaic and unproductive method of all. I often choose to make our players run because it’s great for conditioning and is a team activity. If you are physically able, you should run with them! This shows that you truly care about your players and don’t put yourself above them on a human level. Stop in between running repetitions to deliver points on character, camaraderie, and behavior.
Remember that sports are about having fun. Incorporating innovative practice plans will protect your players from burnout. Film study is a group activity that can not only provide knowledge, but an increased interest of the sport. I use one practice a week to watch film on current and retro athletes at the top of their game (Mike Trout, Pete Rose, Tony Gwynn, etc.) — a day to learn and rest will help break the monotony of ground balls and bullpen sessions. One step further, using rain days to eliminate a practice and schedule a team meal will translate to the field and classroom in big ways.
These are some basic strategies I’ve found to be helpful in team building. As a coach, my main goal is character and player development, with a focus on keeping eligibility and retention rates high in our program. There is no bigger reward than watching our junior high players see abundant success at the varsity level and in their personal lives.
Robert has been coaching baseball at Breckenridge Schools since 2014. He started his career as a volunteer assistant for Post 53 Legion Baseball, following two all-conference seasons as a second baseman under coach Kevin Hiedeman. Robert has coached over 100 youth games during his tenure.