It was the summer of 2007, and point guard Larry Bastfield knew things would be different for Towson Catholic in his senior year.
Bastfield responded by averaging 17 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals per game, leading the Owls to their second straight conference title.
Now a sophomore point guard for the University of Toledo, Bastfield will once again be counted on to guide a group of young teammates to a successful season.
"We have no seniors this year, two juniors, two sophomores and eight freshmen," said the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Bastfield.Granted, the Towson Catholic and Toledo situations aren't exactly the same. The Owls were trying to defend a conference championship, while the Rockets are coming off a 7-25 year in Gene Cross' first season as head coach. But Bastfield, who started 15 of Toledo's last 16 games as a freshman, will be without UT's top two leading scorers as he tries to pilot a freshman-laden squad through the Mid-American Conference.
"It was a typical freshman year," Bastfield said. "You first come in and there's a lot of learning. You've got to learn to play at a faster pace, so it was a learning experience. You just work and keep practicing. I knew I could play, but if I didn't show it in practice, you weren't getting time.
"... So it's going to be different this year. We're bringing in eight new freshmen and we've got to get the freshmen on the same page. But it should be a better team unit this year and we should have better chemistry."
Bastfield spent the beginning of his summer vacation in Toledo, taking classes, lifting weights and participating in open gyms with his teammates. After six weeks, Bastfield returned to Baltimore and spent nearly every second of his free time doing something related to basketball. He worked out with a personal trainer and play pickup ball with several notable Baltimore standouts.
"It was great to come home, see my friends, work out and play in open gyms with guys," Bastfield said. "We played against Malcolm Delaney, Jamar Briscoe (Charlotte), Kimmie English (Missouri), Allen Chaney (Virginia Tech), Brandon Greene (Cecil College), Aric Brooks, who just transferred to Morgan State."
The Towson Catholic gym used to be a popular spot for those offseason pickup games. But the Archdiocese of Baltimore announced the school's closing in July, leaving Bastfield and his former teammates without a high school home.
"I was shocked. I really couldn't believe it," Bastfield said. "But something was going to happen sooner or later. I know something had to be done because enrollment was going down."
While TC's closing was an unexpected bump in an otherwise productive summer, Bastfield remains focused on the task at hand -- returning Toledo to the top of the MAC standings and, once again, showing his young teammates how to win.
"I've just got to be ready," Bastfield said. "I've got to be mature. My teammates are looking at me and looking at what I do as an example."
Baltimore Sun photos of Larry Bastfield by Lloyd Fox and Barbara Haddock Taylor.