|Red Devil boys poised to take next step |
|Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2012 7:00 pm |
| By KEVIN WEAKS |
Wes Miller believes this is the year.
The roster is talented and deep, and the attitude is right for a run at a district championship and a deep postseason run.
“I think this is the most unselfish group since I’ve been here,” said Miller as he enters his third year at the helm of the South Fulton boys’ basketball program. “All in all, this will be a better team because of the way they play together. The chemistry is really good, they all get along and there’s no arguing. It’s just a good, hard-working group.”
For the Red Devils to set off on their journey, they have to take that first step. SF has failed to advance out of the district tournament for seven consecutive years.
Miller feels that is about to change.
“They all have a common goal, and they want a chance at that district title,” the coach said. “This could be the group to do it. Every day, we go into practice, we’re working toward that first round. The attitude is night and day from last year. These guys are tired of getting beat in the first round. They’re tired of watching everybody else play in Trenton.
“We can’t take a game off, we can’t take a day off. If you take a game off in this league, you’re beat.”
District 14A has to rank as among the best — if not the best — Class 1A league in the state. Union City and Lake County have won state championships in recent years while being joined in Murfreesboro by Humboldt. Each of the last two seasons, all four 14A teams have knocked off their 13A brothers in the first round of the Region 7A Tournament.
“Once you get to regionals, you can toss everything up in the air,” Miller said. “You have to get some breaks. Everything from the regional semifinals through the state tournament is a toss-up where anything can happen.”
Miller also says the best path through the first round of the district tourney starts at home. Hosting the opening night of the postseason gives teams a head start.
“That’s the key,” Miller said. “We don’t want to have to go to Union City again.”
In finishing with a 12-16 overall record last year, South Fulton lost 67-66 in overtime at UC in their district tourney opener.
The coach thinks he has the tools this year to build a postseason winner.
Miller feels it all begins with being versatile offensively. To that end, the Red Devils will try to play a fullcourt, fast-paced style each night, but the squad has also worked hard on being a solid halfcourt unit as well.
“We’ve been working hard in the halfcourt and on valuing possessions,” Miller said. “They’re probably getting sick and tired of me talking about that. We’ve had a couple of scrimmages this year where we’ve really tried to limit our turnovers in the halfcourt. That has helped our confidence, which is really the key. We just have to continue to work on it. We want to be up-tempo, but there are going to be games where we have to play halfcourt because teams are going to take us out of what we want to do.”
According to their coach, these Redmen players are capable of doing a lot.
The can send out several combinations to counter the other team based on size or quickness, fullcourt or halfcourt style.
“We have good guards, but some of our guards can step in at post, and some of our post players can step out and shoot.” Miller said. “So, this team is different because we can really cause some mismatch problems. I can put four guards in or I can put three bigs in and still score. Usually, when you put bigs in, you lose some scoring, and when you put guards in, you take rebounding away. But, this group is pretty balanced and all about the same size.”
The four-guard look will likely feature T.J. Ingram at the point and Harrison Hawks at the two spot with Clint Wells and Josh Hollowell on the floor as well.
Ingram (5-7) is a sophomore who has improved his shooting and ball-handling enough to allow Hawks (5-10), a junior, to move to his more natural spot.
Wells (6-3) and Hollowell (6-2), both juniors, have been shooting well in practice and should provide some more offense.
Look for sophomore Aaron Hollingsworth (5-6) to come off the bench and run the point at times, too.
A bigger lineup will feature junior Keshawn McManus (6-3) along with seniors Tevaris James (6-1) and JaQuay Garmon (6-3).
Miller says James could be the biggest surprise in the district this season, pointing to his improved work ethic, leaping ability that leads to rebounds and better shooting touch. He has also added about 10 pounds of muscle to his frame.
Ryan Moore, a 6-1 junior, is also in that mix as well, bringing a mental and physical toughness as well as solid work ethic into the game.
Senior J.P. Fowler (6-0) will be the stopper, designated by Miller to go into games late for the purpose of shutting down the opponent’s top scorer.
“It will be interesting on my part, because you can only play five,” Miller said. “It makes practices better because the players know that if they don’t produce in practice, they’ll be sitting. You’re going to play like you practice, so they have to practice hard to be in good condition and focused. That’s the key, making sure every possession and everything we do means something.”
Miller said the summer schedule went well, noting his team did not lose to a singe-A squad all season.
The schedule has been beefed up somewhat in order to prepare the Devils for postseason play. A trip across the northern state line to Graves County and a home game with Dyer County are featured.
as well as a Christmas tournament trip to Stewart County to face some Clarksville schools. Published in The Messenger 11.8.12