In recent years, the Long County High School boys basketball team boasted marquee players. They served as leaders going into the season and became known as the go-to guys when games were on the line.
Not this season.
There are quality players on the team and leaders, but there are no clear-cut go-to guys.
"I think the strength of our team this year is our depth. We can go anywhere from 10 to 12 deep on our roster on any given night if we need to. There are no superstars," Blue Tide head coach Deshon Brock said.
"By that, I mean that no one comes in with the resume of Jimmy Bacon, Justin Boyd or Norman Thompson," Brock said. "No one has put up those kind of numbers, so we can’t rely on any one guy to bail us out. We have to play as a team and I think that in the end that will be a strong point for us."
Playing as a team and staying focused all season must be a priority for Blue Tide players if they want a repeat of the past few successful seasons.Last year, Long County started the season in a funk and lost seven of its first eight games. However, the team found its stride by mid-season, winning 14 of its last 21 games, and returned to the Class AA Sweet 16 round before losing to Henry County.
If the Tide want to do as well in 2010, the players must continue to score while improving on defense. Last year, the Long County boys had the most potent offense in Region 2-AA, averaging 65 points a game.
But the Blue Tide also allowed 64 points a night, the worst in the region.
Brock is counting on two players to step up on defense and help the team improve over this season, junior Johnnae Jones and senior Jaylen Futch.
"Johnnae is a work horse on the block, he contested shots last year on the defensive end of the floor and he will be asked to do the same this year. We will have him control the glass and grab rebounds as well as establish a low post presence," Brock said. "And as for Jaylen, he gives us a great defensive pressure with his long arms and quickness. "
Two new players should also help defensively.
"One of the biggest acquisitions that we received (over the summer) was that of Henry Peoples, who stands 6’ 2" and weighs 214 pounds, so he is a big strong kid with a lot of ability and potential … He gives us a great low post presence to go with Jones," the coach said. "Also moving back here was Yusuf Gooding, who will play the wing and the block. We are happy to have him back. His size and athleticism will be appreciated."
The Blue Tide boys will hit the court and give fans a glimpse of this year’s team on Nov. 13 at the annual Blue and White game. The girls varsity team and the JV teams also will take the court.
"I would just like to thank the community for their support in the past and ask them for their continued support going into the future," Brock said. "We would like everyone to come out and support our kids."
Tip-off for the first Blue and White match is at 5 p.m. at the Long County High School gym.
To read about Brock’s predictions for the upcoming season and a look at the 2010-11 Lady Tide, see Wednesday’s Courier.