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Coach Nick Brown is looking for his White Buffalo squad to utilize its quickness and play tougher defense

TIM SEGURA  - Madras boys varsity coach Nick Brown addresses his squad during a recent practice. Entering his fourth season as head coach and eighth year in coaching, Nick Brown is eager for the upcoming season to tip off.

Last year, the Madras White Buffalos faced considerable adversity, ending their year with a 7-14 record and last in the 4A Tri-Valley Conference.

But last year is last year, according to Brown.

"Last season is over and we are in a much better position this year, with a great group of returning varsity players."

This year they intend to leverage the speed and ball-handling skills of an experienced squad. Brown sees the Buffs pushing the ball and running the floor offensively along with applying maximum defensive pressure. In comparison to last year, the Buffalos will be faster and more up-tempo.

Madras returns three seniors, three sophomores, and a balance of juniors, providing quality depth with plenty of varsity game experience.

"Running is a big part of who we are. We love to run offensively but this year we want to hang our hat on defense with a ton of stops and be hard-nosed and gritty," said Brown.

The defensive strategy will be to mix in a variety of tactics, including man-to-man and a 1-3-1 zone, for example. They will also apply numerous types of full- and half-court presses as the situation dictates.

An important component this year will be returning senior Wade Simmelink, who commented: "Defense wins championships." When asked about his goals for the year, Simmelink said to take home a league title for the first time in 10 years and to personally lead the team in steals. He stresses the importance of focusing on defensive skill building and loves applying defensive energy to feed off the crowd.

In addition to an aggressive defense, for this year's team to be successful, shooting will be critical, and they've been working hard on it.

"This means repetitive practice to build those shooting memory skills," said Brown.

The offense is an adaptable three-guard motion offense, which means offensive plays and tactics are dictated by what the defense and the defender does. The offense will adapt to take advantage of gaps created in the defense. Brown anticipates their core offensive approach will change each game, depending on what they see on the floor. Ultimately, they must hit shots at a high percentage to come out on top. This means a great deal of practice time and drills are committed to pure shooting.

Offensively, the Buffs will be counting on junior Skytus Smith. He has learned from coach to be mentally tough and move on to the next play as an important aspect to shooting.

Brown anticipates a very challenging league schedule. "Crook County and The Dalles are new to the league but should be solid, Gladstone, Molalla, and Estacada have many players back. Gladstone is typically at the top of the league each year. Overall, the league will be extremely balanced and solid throughout. Every game will be tough night in and night out, you will never know who will beat who."

Brown is very appreciative of the high level of support from the community regardless of wins and losses, noting that community support has been fantastic.

Wednesday, Nov. 30, is the Madras Basketball Fan Fest fundraising event, starting at 5:30 pm. The cost is $10 per adult and children are admitted free and the ticket price includes food. There will be inter-squad scrimmages to watch and fan participation.

The Buffalos open the season Dec. 6 at home against Caldera.

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