Palczewski making own impact on Packers boys basketball program
In his first season as head coach, Adam Palczewski is running the West Fargo boys basketball team in his own way, believing a basketball program takes on the personality of a coach and players.
His players say he's an excellent teacher of the game with high expectations although they also have aspirations of a state championship. After his promotion from assistant coach in the offseason, Palczewski inherits a Packers team that took fifth at the Class A state tournament last year and returns three starters including an all-state player.
"We're doing things the way I think they should be done," Palczewski said. "We're not changing the way basketball is played. It's basketball. You pass, you shoot, you run, you play defense. As long as we do those things, we'll be all right."
Joe Pistorius returns as a senior guard who made the all-state second team last year. Even with a new head coach, Pistorius said West Fargo's goals of a state championship should remain the same.
"The way he's running it, I think it suits us really well," Pistorius said. "He knows what we can do and what our potential is. He definitely holds us to it."
Pistorius is third among Class A returning scorers after averaging 19.3 points per game last season. He tied for second among returning 3-point shooters in Class A with 60 made 3-pointers last season. Last season, Pistorius broke a school record and was 23rd in the all-time ranks in the state with a 43-point single-game performance last season. He also is the fourth-best returning Class A steals leader with 54 and had 31 assists to go with 3.4 rebounds per game last season.
Abdi Sufi, who averaged 8.8 points per game last season, is 15th among returning 3-point shooters with 34 a season ago, 18th among returning assist leaders in the state with 46 and 20th among returning rebounders with 4.8 per game. Luke Lennon is sixth among returning rebounders in Class A with an average of 6.7 per game last season and 39th among returning scorers with 7.3 points per game last season.
Between the development of the returners and Palczewski's high expectations, Sufi believes the Packers have a good season ahead.
"He expects the best out of us," Sufi said. "He's put me into shape. He's a really good guy and cares a lot. It's helped me become a better player."
Palczewski's focus will be on the Packers' defense this year. Offensively, he wants the Packers to be dynamic so they can adjust on anybody and score.
"We're a team that's learning how to play basketball again," Palczewski said. "It's a different system with a different emphasis on both sides of the floor."
With many young players expected to get more minutes this year, Pistorius said he's tried to become more of a leader in his senior year. He believes an uptempo offense and a tough defense will make the Packers stand out this season.
Sufi said the Packers will have to outwork teams. If they do, he believes the Packers can accomplish high goals.
"We'll be relying on everybody on the team," Sufi said. "There's nothing that could stop us."
West Fargo Packers boys basketball
Coach: Adam Palczewski (first year)
Last year's finish: 21-6 record, fifth place at Class A state tournament
Who's gone: Haboniman Simon, Raiden Forrest, John Morton, Michael Yeanay.
Key returners: Joe Pistorius, Sr., G; Abdi Sufi, Sr., G; Luke Lennon, Jr., C.