Andalusia senior Phillip James drives to the basket during practice Monday afternoon. The Bulldogs will be small and inexperienced, but they do have a game plan, coach Richard Robertson said. | Andrew Garner/Star-News
Andalusia senior Phillip James drives to the basket during practice Monday afternoon. The Bulldogs will be small and inexperienced, but they do have a game plan, coach Richard Robertson said. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Andalusia opens season

Published 12:01am Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Andalusia tips off its boys basketball season tonight as the Bulldogs travel to play the Geneva Panthers.

For the past four to five days, the Bulldogs have been practicing as a full squad to get ready for the opener after AHS got knocked out of the first round of the football playoffs.

Richard Robertson, who is entering his 38th season as the head coach of the Bulldogs, said the team is “small” and “inexperienced, but we’ve got some things we think we can do to counter that.”

“We’ve worked hard the last four days,” he said. “We’ve got to change our approach a little bit. We’re going to play and find out.”

When asked what one does with a team with a little size, Robertson said you just go back to what you know already.

The Bulldogs have three seniors on the varsity boys squad this season. They are Montel Lee, Jayden Ellison and Phillip James. Lee and James came over to the team from football. Ellison is strictly a basketball player.

All three seniors will be utilized on the floor, Robertson said.

James will be at center, Lee will be the No. 4 guard, and Ellison will more than likely be a shooting guard, depending on how the younger players do, the coach said.

“He might have to end up being the ball handler (the point guard),” Robertson said.

Additionally, look for junior guard Devante Jackson to play in the No. 3 spot for AHS.

One difference this year compared to last year is that Andalusia will have more than one good shooter on the floor at one time.

Robertson said there isn’t much depth to the team’s youth, however.

“I’ve been here before,” he said. “We have been bigger. The good thing about being young is you can have success with young folks, and then you’ve got them for a while. I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.”

The Bulldogs will be competing in Class 4A, Area 2 with Hillcrest-Evergreen, Monroe County and Wilcox Central. MCHS made it to the south sub-regional, where it fell to Escambia County to make it the only team from the area to go that far in the postseason.

Andalusia isn’t going to worry about area play until it starts in January, Robertson said.

“We’re the under dog — we know that,” he said. “We finished fourth last year (in the area).

“We’ve got to come off the floor, but the game’s got to be played,” he said. “We’re playing one ball game. I’ve got a full squad already picked out.”

In the meantime leading up to January, the Bulldogs will host their annual invitational tournament Dec. 19-21, and then play in Red Level’s Christmas Tournament Dec. 26-28.

With any given year, Robertson said he always stays optimistic about his bunch.

“As coaches, we can find something for them to do,” Robertson said. “It’s a matter of whether we can get them in position to do it. We’re going to do a bunch of things.

“They’ve only been here for four days, but they’ve been receptive to what we’re trying to do,” he said. “Right now, we’re 0-0. What we’ve got to do now is build mental toughness and play hard, and play smart and together. What happens between now and February is immaterial. We’ve got to progress every day. If we progress every day, then it happens.”

After tonight’s game against the Panthers, the Bulldogs have a home contest on Thursday against Pleasant Home. The Bulldogs’ game Friday against Straughn has been canceled because the Tigers will be playing in the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs against Bayside Academy.

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