Bumpy road ahead: Tigers set for 2004-05 season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 25, 2004

McKenzie Tiger basketball is in a transition period right now. They are transitioning from the fact that their home games are going to be played on someone else's court and they are also transitioning from one coaching staff to another. This year's team will be under the helm of James Brown.

For Brown, not playing at home isn't the focus he wants to take this season. His goal is to turn the team around.

"Not getting to play at home isn't bothering our kids that much, honestly," said Brown. "Our problem is, I may cause myself some problems here, but they are used to doing like they want to do. They are not used to having someone who wants them at a certain place at a certain time and is going to insist on them being there. They are used to calling their own shots. That's why they are having no more success than they've had in the recent past."

Brown's focus is to turn the Tigers into a disciplined, competitive squad.

"We may not win a basketball game, but it's not because I'm not making an effort to get control of this thing," Brown said.

"We had 24 kids come out and now we are having fewer and fewer come out for each practice. I don't know what the problem is. I'm sure somebody would say it was the coach, but last year it didn't run very smoothly."

On Monday, Brown said he had 20 kids in the program, 10 on the B team and 10 on the varsity.

"We've got some guys that we are depending on haven't played much organized basketball," said Brown.

"They played a little but for one reason or another dropped out. It looks like we are going to be a very competitive basketball team on our level, 1A. The thing is going to be how well we work together and pull together. It's a situation where our basketball has not had a lot of emphasis in the not-so distant past. Where there have been three or four coaches come in and our older guys are fairly skilled, but it's a case where they hadn't been hammered on a lot."

Brown already knows who he is going to depend on for their leadership skills.

"Basically we are going to be leading by committee," Brown said. "The guys that I am going to be counting are guys that may not have a lot of experience in what I'm looking to do, but I'm counting on Travis Bush, David Davidson, Matthew Bush and Rhett Lowe, not necessarily in that order. We've got some good talented young men here, it's just getting them on the same page."

But, the lack of numbers can pose problems for a team like the Tigers.

"Our varsity's like metal," Brown said, "right now we are trying to see how mallebale they are. It's not a question of basketball skill. It's a question of them being on the same page and doing things when they need to do them, like filling the lane.

A lot of our younger guys that should be playing B and getting more seasoning are having to play varsity basketball. I had one tell me today that he wasn't going to be able to play anymore and that eliminated his head in the count. I've got several ninth and tenth graders that should be playing B team but are on the varsity. That's going to make us green down here on the B team

If I can get them all on the same page that's going to make us successful within reason. If that doesn't happen, it's going to be tough because we are not that athletic and overwhelming physically. Whether or not they can buy into that we'll find out."

Although this is Brown's first time coaching at McKenzie, he is no stranger to Tiger basketball.

"I saw this team two times and discipline was non-existent the two times I saw them," Brown said. "That's not the way it's going to be this year. Those that can make that adjustment will still be out here when the season starts and those that can't won't. We may not win a ballgame, but that won't be because we've got chaos. Then again it may be because we have total chaos."

Brown and his Tigers were originally set to go to J.F. Shields to start the season, but Brantley and Straughn dropped out of the New Brockton Thanksgiving Tournament as a result, McKenzie and Headland were invited. If the Tigers post a win on Wednesday, they will come back and play the tournament over the weekend, if they fall, then they are left gearing up for J.F. Shields.

"I figured that'd be a good warmer for us," said Brown.

The Tigers will spend the first half of their season on the road due to their floor being damaged from Hurricane Ivan. The second part of their schedule actually has the Tigers playing at home. Once again, because the floor is damaged, they will not be playing at McKenzie, their home games will played at Georgiana High School.