The Madison County boys’ basketball team will be “on-guard,” so to speak, this summer.
Following the graduation of five guards from last year’s roster, the Raiders seek to shore up their back court this offseason.
“We’re really working on trying to get our guards back in the groove,” coach Steve Crouse said via telephone from team camp at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Madison County — which came one game shy of the state tournament last year — lost experienced ball handlers like Chad Griffeth and Jeremy Smith last year, and shooters like Seth Fleming, Reterrium Davis and Ben Morris.
The Raiders, of course, possess a go-to post-player in Patrick McCrary, but hope to use their athleticism on the perimeter this winter, where they welcome back T.J. McGuire, Kendrick Butler, Presley McKeever Trae Burton and Bradley Raines, who’s spent time playing point guard this summer. The team also acquired Stan Maxwell, an offseason transfer.
Success lies in the Raiders using their quickness at guard to push the ball down the floor before an opponent’s defense sets-up.
“Guard play looks good when you’re getting down the floor getting layups,” Crouse said.
And the Raiders have the speed to do that, he said.
“Presley, Kendrick, T.J. — very, very fast,” Crouse said. “And Bradley’s explosive, too.”
Madison County, however, must be able to run set plays as well as score in transition. Everybody in the Raider offense must be able to handle the ball.
“That’s going to be important, if we can handle it and execute our half-court stuff,” Crouse said.
More than anything, the coach wants to sort out his backcourt lineup during the summer schedule, which includes a full slate of scrimmages and the trip to Chattanooga for team camp.
Crouse wants to assess the point guard position first and work from there. “We’re just trying to define, where can we play, what are some good rotation’s for … That’s what this is all about,” Crouse said.
NOTES AND QUOTES
Madison County didn’t hold a youth camp this summer, opting to use the time, instead, for practice. “I felt like this year, having graduated five seniors, we needed some time to work with our kids,” Crouse said. “And do some things fundamentally that we don’t always get to do during the season.” … The camp at Chattanooga includes an overtime tournament, specializing in crunch-time situations. Crouse is focusing on late-game scenarios after watching his team falter in several close contests last year. “We just didn’t finish games out really well,” he said. “We would have a four-minute span where we would run out of gas or didn’t execute. We’re focusing this summer on not having those kind of breakdowns.”