Standing in the middle of the McKinney North basketball court, coach Darryll Craft is shouting instructions to his young players and teaching them offensive and defensive schemes as the 2011-12 boys varsity season gets set to begin.
“I am very excited about this season, we are a very young but very talented team,” Craft said. “And if our skill and mental approach get on the same level we should be a good team.”
Craft, who is a Master Math Teacher off the court, is beginning his 8th year as head coach of the Bulldogs.
He knows that this year’s group has the potential to be as talented and as successful as any team he has coached — even though it started the campaign with a 70-62 loss to West Mesquite on Tuesday. North has a chance to redeem itself in game No. 2 this Friday at home against Litle Elm.
The Bulldogs’ biggest obstacle is their lack of experience. They enter this season with only three players with previous varsity experience: 6-foot-9 senior post Alexander Ridley, 6-1 senior guard Alex Pelton, and 6-2 sophomore guard Julian Pearre are the only returnees who had any significant playing time last season.
Two juniors, 6-2 post Brandon Bloedel and 6-1 guard Bryson Brown join five other sophomores on the squad. With so many underclassmen, Craft and his staff will need to stretch their coaching and teaching skills to the limit.
“Our guys must not get upset when adversity comes,” Craft said. “They will need to learn that when things go wrong, not to dwell on them but just move on to the next play.”
Craft has taken advantage of UIL rules that allow high school basketball teams to play together in summer and fall leagues as well as attend team camps to build team unity and hone skills during the off-season. Although UIL rules prohibit Craft and his staff from coaching the team during this time, Craft was able to watch from the stands. He likes what he has seen.
The camps as well as early season workouts have allowed Craft to install his system of play, which calls for
a true team concept. Craft explains that the offense his young Bulldogs will run this year is not set up to showcase one particular player but instead one in which all players can contribute.
Craft credits fourth-year Assistant Coach Charles Hadley with instilling in the players what has become the Bulldogs’ signature approach and style of play.
Hadley says, “We may not be the most talented, we may not be the most skilled but we will always give the best maximum effort every second of every night we are on the floor.”
Craft knows with a a young team he will need a good non-district schedule so his players can learn from their mistakes and be ready when the time comes to contend for the district title.
There is reason to get excited about the Dawgs’ season. The Master Teacher, Craft will insure that his young team’s skill and mental approach will be on the same level as the season progresses. And this coudl spell
trouble for any team who spends any time on the same floor as the Dawgs.
The players are young, and they hope to make sure that your excitement for them will not grow “old.”
Go out and support the Bulldogs this season, these young players will insure that your excitement for them will not grow “old.”
-Story by TownSquareBuzz contributor Harvey Oaxaca