Madras boys ready to put the pedal to the metal
If last season was only a preview of what the Madras boys basketball team wants to get back to, expect this one to be a whole lot closer to the real thing.
In the heyday of Evan Brown's first stint as the White Buffalos' head coach, from 1992 to 2007, the team put an emphasis on tempo and team defense.
Last season, the first one of his second tenure as head man, reintroducing those concepts at full speed simply wasn't in the cards. Even at full strength, the roster wasn't tailored to that system, and a number of injuries to key players made things more complicated. The Buffs still managed a play-in game, but lost to Sisters and finished the season with a 10-12 record.
For the future of the program, Brown and his fellow assistant coaches believed the time was right to get back to the style Madras knows best.
The Buffs plan to play 10 guys this season, in what Brown calls a "platoon," meaning entire starting fives will sub out for one another frequently.
"The idea is they're playing that hard, and after a minute, they're going to need to come out," Brown said.
In transition, the Buffs set screens to free up 3-point shooters. If executed correctly, it can also free up easy baskets inside for seniors Tyler Lockey and Kanim Smith, who are among the biggest players Brown has ever coached at the same time.
Those two will get their points, as they did last season, but likely the bigger key to the Buffs having success this year hinges on who brings the ball up the court.
Turnovers plagued Madras often last season, and making matters worse at times was the inexperience of its back court.
That responsibility, somewhat unfairly, often fell on Byron Patt and Chad Thurby. But this year, it is assumed Patt will take on a larger role, and Thurby could too, once he returns from an ankle injury. Madras also added sophomore Dupri Miller, an athletic guard who should be in line for big minutes.
"In my eyes, it's a better team than last year," Patt said. "Our structure and everything is there ... we have someone to fill every spot."
And even though Smith and Lockey, both all-league players in the Tri-Valley Conference a year ago, are big men in a system that has traditionally been guard-oriented, and on a team with a lot of smaller guys, the two are capable shooters and have ball-handling skills.
"Our bigger guys are agile and can handle the ball a little bit, so it's kind of conducive to them as well," Brown said. "Just looking at the long-term picture, we just felt like it was time to make that change to that crazy hectic tempo."
Madras begins its season Dec. 5, at Scappoose, before coming home to host the Madras Invitational Dec. 8-9.