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Quick Hits, Nansemond River style

Posted 12-11-2007 at 12:36 AM by Jeff Cunningham
Talked to Nansemond River boys basketball coach Ed Young at length this evening at his team's last practice before their season opener tomorrow against Great Bridge. Here are some thoughts from our conversation and what I saw out of the team in drills:

-Young said his team's pretty much being thrown into the fire right away; the Warriors open the season with three straight district games (Great Bridge, @ Grassfield, Oscar Smith) before traveling to Myrtle Beach for the holiday tournament there. Duncanville, a Texas-based school that's already 12-0 on the season and ranked No. 3 in the country by HoopsUSA, will probably be one of the Warriors' opponents.

-The Myrtle Beach tournament and the Jan. 5 friendly against Australia-based Sport School are the only non-district games Nansemond River will play this year. In fact, tournaments aside, Hickory, Great Bridge, Western Branch and Grassfield are the only Southeastern District schools to play more than one out-of-district game. Part of that could be attributed to the addition of Grassfield to the district -- something Young talked about over the summer at the VHSCA All-Star Game.

-Young lamented his team's defensive effort in practice, telling me, "Our defense is just flat-out terrible ... I don't think we're going to be all that good this year." Coach-speak, an attempt at humor? Hard to tell, but Young did later say his team doesn't always practice well, but seems to ratchet it up once the referee throws the ball into the air. Guess we'll find out tomorrow night against the Wildcats ...

-Senior guard Andre Jones told me that playing with senior forward Nick Wright was a blessing because of how hard Wright plays and practices. How hard does Wright practice? On one drill, he lept into the paint and sent a teammate's shot banging off the court out of bounds -- then proceeded to ball up his fists and scream loud enough to echo off the far walls of the gym. On another play, he went up for a layup, only to be hacked by one of the assistant coaches playing the role of defender. When Young didn't whistle the drill dead for the foul, Wright again balled his fists and belted his frustration. And this is [I]in practice[/I] -- you hear that, A.I.?

-You think Jones doesn't want a state title this year? After noticing a player approaching a loose ball with a little hesitation during practice, the senior clapped his hands together and bellowed out, "Come on, now! It's game time tomorrow, man!" On a team with five players lacking varsity experience, that kind of senior leadership could be just what the Warriors need.

-As tall as Wright is, fellow senior Quinton McDuffie might be a more imposing presence in the paint. Not quite as tall as Wright, McDuffie makes up for it in girth. And based on what I saw in practice, he can attack the glass with the same fervor as Wright. And, as mentioned, whatever Wright doesn't do, McDuffie handles and vice versa. Wright and McDuffie might not be the best frontcourt in the district based on talent or size, but in the way they work with each other. The way these two feed off each other, opposing players should enter the lane at their own risk.

-I know this has nothing to do with Nansemond River -- or really, the Southeastern District -- but there's a huge early-season game tomorrow night in Virginia Beach. Tallwood visits Ocean Lakes at 7:30 in what could be a pivotal game in deciding the district race down the road. Tallwood has won two straight Beach District titles, but Ocean Lakes looks to be a the favorite, with the athletic trio of Marcus Davis, Randall Dunn and T.J. Cowart. It's only early December, but the Dolphins can make a lasting statement with a win tomorrow night.

-More details and insight as they come, hoops fans ...
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