By David Pan Enterprise sports editor
It’s a whole new ball game for the Lynnwood boys basketball team.
The graduation of 6-foot-9 center Simi Fajemisin means a totally different approach for the Royals.
Developing that approach was the No. 1 goal for coach Darrell McNeal this summer as Lynnwood played in the Lake Stevens and Seattle Pacific University tournaments and then wrapped up the summer at the Gonzaga University team camp.
Fajemisin was such a force on both ends of the court that the Royals’ game plan revolved around him. Fajemisin, who will play basketball at the University of San Diego, was a varsity player for four years.
“We have to learn how to defend and rebound without him,” McNeal said. “We have to get other kids to step up and contribute.
“We’ve got some kids who need to learn to step up and really shoot the ball for us and be more aggressive.”
Fajemisin took a lot of shots and was a tenacious rebounder. He also was an intimidating force in the middle.
What does this mean for next season’s squad?
“We’ve got to try to increase our shooting percentage and take care of the basketball at the same time,” McNeal said.
The good news for the Royals is they have some experience back with seniors-to-be Anthony Edwards, Ryan Haney, Jordan Le and Jordan Norde, all of whom started last season.
As for the new center, that role falls to Dustin Bowman, who stands 6-foot-7.
Lynnwood will be a smaller team. McNeal isn’t sure the reduction in height necessarily means a faster team.
“It’s still hard to say,” McNeal said. “I do like to control the tempo.”
Next year’s team is simply going to have to do more.
“We’ve got to be able to execute and knock down shots and play great defense and rebound,” McNeal said. “The kids are going to have to play harder.”
What McNeal saw from his team this summer was both good and bad, which was not necessarily what he was looking for.
“We’ve got to be consistent,” McNeal said. “We weren’t very consistent. That’s something we’re going to have to work on during the season.”