Basketball season is here and no one is more excited to see what it brings than Elsberry Indians Head Coach Ryan Parker.
One way he plans on making sure it’s a good season is by coaching his kids to be more versatile and knowing how to work more positions.
“We need to know how to work the ball more than just running set plays to Kenny Lesley or Rahiem Porter,” said Parker. “Ultimately I expect us to work more as a basketball team than set play type team.”
One of the key things they have been working on already is setting the tone for leadership and it’s not just one. According to Parker, he has had several players already show signs of good leadership; whether it has been vocal or by example.
“We have guys that want to be leaders, they may not know how to be, but we have guys stepping up and trying to lead this team in a good direction,” said Parker. “Some of them may be just setting the tone with their effort. Nobody is just captioned the leader; you either are one or you aren’t. It’s not just something you can be given.”
Starting the line this season will Porter at the one position, Rodney Chatman in the two and Zach Rimel on the three. However, with Adam Sherrow working off a knee injury, he should be able to battle back and share that position. Dylan Howard will work the four spot, while Lesley takes the five.
“Sherrow, when he gets healthy will be able to work off the bench, as will Wayne Holland, Gavin Hill, Tyler Turnbull and Caleb Vitro,” said Parker. “I mean that’s 10 guys right there that can help us. We need to find spots for them to be successful in; we can’t just throw them on the floor and expect results.”
One of the things Parker said he preaches is that it’s important to show the younger players what’s expected of them and how to work it. According to him, it’s not just a matter of showing up to the gym, but how to prepare for practice every day and what’s expected every day.
“From the big things to the little things, it’s all important,” said Parker. “This isn’t just a basketball game, it’s a job and everyone has a role they must play in order for the team to be successful.”
Although losing Charles Fraction last season was a big blow for the team, Parker said he is pretty confident that Chatman can step in and fill the void. However, depth right now is his key issue.
“I think we have some guys that are capable, but they need to step up,” said Parker. “I wouldn’t say this is a rebuilding season for us, because how do you rebuild from a District Championship?”
Parker went on to say that he is not really sure what direction the team is headed this season. For him, they can either be a really good state tournament type team or things could fall apart.
“I mean one good injury or one bad grade could cost us tragically, because of our depth,” said Parker. “My first year here in 2008, we were 15 deep. I could put five on five on five during practice and be good. But gradually as the years have gone on, those numbers have dwindled. Last year I played seven guys and each year that number seems to deplete. We’ve actually had to move players from JV to Varsity because of it. So yeah, one small thing could have a pretty good impact on the season.”
The Indians first game will be at 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 25 against Highland, in Elsberry. This will make the first year a game has been played before Thanksgiving since before 2008.
“I set the schedule so I have to live with that, but my goal was to get at least one game in before the Troy Tournament, because I think that’s where we are going to see what direction we will head this season,” said Parker. “Two years ago, I knew what kind of team I had; I knew we’d be fine, last year I had no clue what I had. I mean I knew what kind of players I had, but no clue as what to expect out of them.”
His goal was to avoid going into the Troy Tourney blind. Although, the Indians have never played Highland before, they have played in the same District and sees them as well coached, highly athletic team that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“I think they will be a good match for us and hopefully we will get an idea of what to expect going forward,” said Parker.