New Roaring Fork basketball coach ‘still figuring things out’ as season gets going

Rich Allen
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
New Roaring Fork High School basketball coach Jason Kreiling directs from the bench in the team’s game against Coal Ridge at the Demon Invitational on Dec. 9.
Rich Allen/Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Jason Kreiling is already familiar with most of the players on the Roaring Fork High School boys basketball team — or at least the middle school versions of them.

“When there’s a difference of three or four years, they change quite a bit,” Kreiling said.

Kreiling took over the boys varsity coaching job just a month before practices started. He was originally looking at the junior varsity role, but the varsity role unexpectedly opened and Kreiling made the transition.

That isn’t to say that Kreiling isn’t credentialed at the varsity level — he worked as head coach for boys and girls teams at Basalt in the late 2000s, guiding the latter to a second-place league finish.

Kreiling made the move to Carbondale shortly after and has coached basketball and football there alongside his technology teacher duties, already seeing “almost all” of his new players when they were smaller Rams. His old Twitter handle was @cmswolverines, the school’s former mascot before aligning with the high school and becoming the Rams.

After holding the ranks at the middle school, he shifts his focus just down Colorado Highway 133.

“Just familiarity with the school and how things work is huge,” Roaring Fork High School Athletic Director Crista Barlow said. “He’s had lots of experience coaching the basketball teams over at the middle school. High school is different. It’s a different game, different expectations, but he’s done his research and I think he’s putting together a great program.”

Despite the familiarity, there is still much to learn, according to Kreiling. His new team got off to a quick 2-0 start on the season, but has lost its last three ahead of entering a final weekend tournament before the winter break.

He also faces piecing together a lineup following the graduation of the team’s top four scorers a year ago and three more seniors.

“Still trying to figure things out,” Kreiling said. “It’s going to take a few more games to find out the chemistry that works best… I’m still trying to figure out who can do what, who’s going to be in the right role.”

For a team with “maybe two guys with varsity experience,” Kreiling’s priority is building up the confidence of his players in their new roles at a consistent level.

At Glenwood Springs High School on Dec. 9, Roaring Fork went on a quick run against Coal Ridge before eventually falling behind by as many as 20 points. They finished the game down by seven.

Kreiling said that confidence played a major factor in the scoreboard swings.

“Once we have that consistent confidence, I think we’re going to see a lot of good things,” Kreiling said. “These guys get down a little bit, body language changes and then they’ve got to decide, ‘We’ve got to do something.’ They can compete, but we’ve got to be consistent.”

Kreiling said that once that confidence is there and the best possible roles are figured out, he’s going to take a hands-off approach to coaching.

His system is simple and he said he doesn’t plan on running a lot of set plays. He again cited the Coal Ridge game.

“In that fourth quarter when we made a run, I told the boys I didn’t coach the fourth quarter and that was all them,” Kreiling said. “I want to teach these kids how to play basketball. I want to teach them just how you react, that read-and-react offense, and just kind of teach them that game of basketball and try to do as little coaching as I need to and try and just let these guys go for it.”

Roaring Fork sits at 2-3 on the season with four games scheduled from Thursday through Saturday in a tournament in Grand Junction. Afterward, they start league play against Parachute on Jan. 15.