BY MATT SCHUCKMAN
HERALD-WHIG SPORTS EDITOR
Bob Sheffield has allowed himself to envision what might take place when the Quincy Notre Dame boys basketball team opens its season Friday night.
And he's caught himself thinking about it more than just a time or two.
"Too many times," Sheffield admitted.
The worry is the first game against Sullivan, Mo., in the Gully Transportation Tip-Off Shootout doesn't go as smooth as he hopes.
"It scares me to death," Sheffield said.
That's understandable. He's never been in this position.
After serving as one of Scott Douglas' top assistant coaches for 16 seasons at QND, Sheffield is embarking on his first season as a head coach. He was hired in May to replace Douglas, who resigned in April after 17 seasons as the winningest and longest-tenured coach in program history.
What he's learned in the last six months is the coaching doesn't change. The responsibility does.
"It's the things outside that you take for granted," Sheffield said. "It's all the paperwork, the organizing of things that takes time to learn and adjust to. ... I have good people around to help me."
That allows him to do what he does best. That's coach.
"The time on the floor, the practice, the preparing for practice ... that's been pretty easy," Sheffield said. "I've been doing it for long enough."
The Raiders haven't noticed many changes in that regard.
"We know he brings the energy that he does every day," sophomore guard Drew Eaton said. "He's a fun guy to play for, and I think the adjustment period will be little to none."
Expect in one regard.
"He yells a lot more," senior forward Tony Stella said. "He's a lot louder than Douglas."
The Raiders already knew that.
"You would think with a new coach things would be different. Not a lot has changed," Stella said. "He brings a lot of energy to practice."
He also brings a desire to move forward and not compare this team to any other.
"I always talk to them about how tradition never dies," Sheffield said. "I also told them I would never mention years previous. We're not about years previous. We have a tradition and I talk about what it means to put on that uniform. If you put on that uniform, you better be ready to work. You better be ready to sweat, bleed and sacrifice things personally. That never changes.
"This team will create its own identity and succeed on its own merits."
Sheffield started to see that take shape during last week's scrimmage.
"I thought we looked OK," Sheffield said. "We looked organized and kind of like we had a clue. We still have a lot of things to work on. But I want to see how we match up."
Friday night, the Raiders finally get that chance.
"I'm excited and anxious," Sheffield said. "I want to see how we perform against another team."
He's envisioned it, and he hopes the reality comes close.
"Honestly, I'm scared to death," Sheffield said. "But I'm ready."