Thursday , 21 September 2017

Mike Bruu: North-Royse City, Boyd Basketball’s Turnaround & the Return of the Podcast

By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor

1. Happy Thursday McKinney! Now I would like to assure everybody that I am really Mike Bruu, and that if I had a girlfriend, (if is the operative word in this scenario,) I also would assure you that she is real. If you haven’t checked out the Deadspin.com article about Manti Te’o and his hoax of a girlfriend (a famously dead one), I encourage you to complete my column and then click here to read about one of the greatest scams in sports history. It will blow your mind.

2. What a big night of high school basketball we have on the boys’ side of things on Friday night. For North, a road matchup at Royse City wraps up the first half of District 13-4A play, and boy is it a big game for both schools. Here are the current standings in 13-4A:

1. Lovejoy      6-0
2. North          5-1
3. Royse City 4-2
4. Greenville  2-4
4. Wylie         2-4
4. Sherman     2-4
4. Wylie East 2-4
8. Denison     1-5

Similar to the football season in this district, there are three teams that have separated from the pack, while the other five are in a logjam for the fourth and final playoff spot. Royse City’s shocking 69-67 loss versus Greenville on Tuesday night put the McKinney North Bulldogs in sole possession of second place in 13-4A, before the highly anticipated matchup between the two schools this Friday.

North head coach Darryll Craft told me after his team’s win versus Sherman on Tuesday night that his team should be ready for the big game on Friday, and that the teams mirror themselves in several ways, including their love of the three-point line.

“You would have to think that they are (mirrors), especially after this performance,” Craft said. “Playing at their place is always tough because the lighting is a little different and stuff, but they want to shoot the three just like we do, maybe even a little more.”

If the Bulldogs can get a little more help from Greenville, who travels to first place Lovejoy on Friday, and can knock off the Leopards, and North can take care of business versus Royse City, both teams would be tied at the top of the standings at 6-1 heading into next Tuesday’s rematch at North. It’s a fun time to be a Bulldog fan.

As for the girls team, the Lady Bulldogs have won 16 games in a row and have opened up 13-4A play with an 8-0 record. North is currently No. 9 in the TABC Top 25 rankings and have a two-game lead on Lovejoy for first place in 13-4A. Here are the full standings:

1. North          8-0
2. Lovejoy      6-2
3. Wylie          5-3
4. Sherman     4-4
4. Royse City 4-4
6. Greenville  2-6
6. Wylie East 2-6
8. Denison    1-7

Led by Alexis Mason and KK Connor, who missed Tuesday’s home win versus Sherman with an illness, the Lady Bulldogs can likely begin printing those District champion t-shirts within the next week or two.

3. I am alum of McKinney Boyd and know first hand how basketball used to be viewed at the school. Not to offend anyone who used to be associated with the program, but students never packed the house to watch games and it was often times viewed as one of the lesser programs at the school.

However, things began to change three years ago when Dean Christian took over the program as the head coach of the boys team. While the Broncos have not made the playoffs in program history, Christian began changing the atmosphere surrounding the program and started developing players to buy into the winning system.

Two seniors, Mikel Parish and Ryan Brinkman, spoke with me after their Monday practice about the evolution of the Boyd basketball program and how the Broncos were no longer considered “a joke.”

“The biggest change is definitely the seriousness and confidence in the players,” said Parish, a four-year lettermen at Boyd. “The will to win is also greater now and the fact that this team isn’t a joke now is a big deal. We want to win games and do it for the city.”

The Broncos had their best start in program history this season; winning two non-district tournaments including knocking off 10-5A rival McKinney High in the championship of the OrthoTexas Invitational. However, the team has gotten off to a 0-2 start in the highly competitive District 10-5A to fall to 16-5 overall on the season.

“It is definitely great coaching and players, so overall there is not going to be a game that they just hand to us,” said Brinkman, regarding the Broncos district mates. Boyd lost its opener versus Allen 49-43 and was topped by Plano East 36-28 on Tuesday night.

Despite the rough start to district play, no one can deny that the Broncos have become a threat in the high school basketball landscape in DFW. The transformation from perennial loser to playoff contender has to begin with Christian, who Brinkman said stepped in and inspired a “team-first” mentality with the team.

“I would say Coach Christian has done a phenomenal job of coming in, and I think what he has brought in here is the belief that is doesn’t take one individual to win but it takes an entire team,” said Brinkman. “Just coming together and getting that attitude at practice every day that we can do this makes us believe that we can win some games.”

“He wanted to make sure we understood that basketball is a team game and that it takes a team effort, especially with the Princeton offense,” said Parish. “It is a very team first, pass-first offense, and that was one of the biggest things he instilled in us early is that it takes the whole team.”

While coaching is an important aspect of the game of basketball, it takes the entire team to buy into the system the coach is pitching in order to win games. When I asked the players when the mentality began to change amongst the players, Parish said the change occurred during the summer workouts.

“I would say the moment was during Performance Course,” Parish said. “Looking around and seeing how hard we were working, how enthusiastic we were, and how ‘turnt’ up we were, you could just look at people’s faces and realize that things were different. You got that vibe that things were different this year and we were ready to win.”

The playoffs aren’t a guarantee for the Broncos, especially if the team loses at home on Friday night versus the McKinney Lions. Boyd currently sits in a three-way tie for fourth place, along with MHS and Plano. With four of six teams making the postseason, three or four wins can sneak you into the dance but the Broncos need to start reeling off wins to stay in the hunt.

So how does this Bronco team want to be remembered?

“We want to be the team that started from the bottom and made it to the top,” said Parish.

4. Here are the standings in District 10-5A for both the boys and girls:

Boys:
1. Plano East   2-0
1. Plano West  2-0
1. Allen           2-0
4. Boyd           0-2
4. McKinney  0-2

4. Plano          0-2

Girls:
1. Plano           4-0
2. Plano West  3-1
3. McKinney  2-2
4. Allen           1-3
4. Plano East  1-3
4. Boyd          1-3

5. By the way, TSB’s Basketball Game of the Week for Friday night is MHS-Boyd for both the boys and girls. The Lionettes and Lady Broncos tip off at 6 p.m., while the boy’s squads will get going around 7:30 p.m. This will be a huge night for all four teams, as the outcome of the games will go a long way in determining who makes and misses the playoffs.

6. I saw Trouble With The Curve on Sunday night, and I must say that I was highly disappointed in the film. Despite my love for baseball movies, this was one that struck out more times than it got on base.

7. I have officially lost interest in the NFL playoffs, despite the tremendous games we had last weekend. Maybe it is the fact that we could be looking at a San Francisco-New England Super Bowl right in the face. While I love me some Colin Kaepernick, both teams irritate me to the highest degree. And yes, I am extremely jealous that my team is not as successful and playing in the title games. Sue me.

8. How did everyone like the season two premiere of The Sports Bruu Podcast? I must say I felt like it was a very strong return to the sports podcast scene. Now with this Manti Te’o story and the Super Bowl matchup all decided come Monday, this could be a very entertaining second episode. Download the show on iTunes by searching ‘Sports Bruu Podcast’ so you can be the cool kid at the gym who listens to podcasts as you walk on the hamster wheel.

9. I believe my business has concluded for this week, but I appreciate your attention and time on this Thursday. Follow me on the Twitter @TSBSportsBruu. Until next time, ladies and gentlemen.

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