Norcross High School hosted Gwinnett County Basketball Media Day
afternoon. Coaches and players gathered from across the
to share their insights into the upcoming season. Kyle Sandy caught up with each of the coaches and transcribed what they had to say.
2015-16 Record: 25-5
Head Coach Ty Baumgardner
On this year's outlook: "We lost a lot. Not just statistically.
we lost just some toughness and some leadership, so I'm interested to see once practice gets going, how these guys step up in those roles. You know that leadership is huge on any team on any sport."
On battling injuries last year and finally being healthy: "Well we have a few nicks and bruises right now, but we're hoping we are much healthier than we were last year. It seemed like every time we turned around someone was out with an ankle, shoulder or whatever. So if we can stay healthy that will be a plus, but if not,
model as last year: next guy step up."
2015-16 Record: 11-14
Head Coach Cory Cason
On what changes from Year 1 to Year 2: "I think we are a much more talented basketball team this year. Last year we were kind of pieced together with some guys that were maybe a little more athletes than necessarily skilled basketball players. I think we have more basketball skills and guys with a little higher basketball IQ. I think we also have some guys that play off each other a little bit better."
2015-16 Record: 16-10
Head Coach Cabral Huff
On how to recreate his previous state championship success now at Duluth: "What you try to do is create
. That family atmosphere, get them to buy into the program, get them to play for the next man next to them. Once we are able to do that, we will contend for a state championship."
2015-16 Record: 14-15
Head Coach David Allen
On the strength of the team: "I think team chemistry and strong leadership that is bringing our young kids along at the right pace. We like to think we will be very hard to score on."
On style of play: "We are going to do a multitude of things. I think we are going to have some sets where we got a three-out
type look and then we got some situations where we can go four-out and our transition game will hopefully be strong for us."
2015-16 Record: 13-13
Head Coach BJ Roy
On how you go from potential to actual success: "We started out with a plan. It's followed through and now we are at the point where we need to take that step. We've got to take the step to not just play close games and be competitive but to finish games and to step forward and to take care of things in our region on a night in and night out basis."
On the optimism surrounding the season: "This is the most excited I've been since coming here because I feel like we are playing with a varsity team against varsity opponents night in and night out where in the past we've really been playing young."
2015-16 Record: 6-20
Head Coach Matt Garner
On his first year as head coach: "I think we didn't meet our expectations. You can call it a rebuilding year, but we expected to win more than six games.
On what changes in Year 2: "More experience all around, starting with the coaching staff. We have five seniors this year compared to only having three last year. We're a bigger, faster, stronger team this year. Better athletes. Our freshman and sophomore classes are pretty loaded with guard play so we're excited about them in the future. But we have three returning starters, last year we had none so I think that's going to go a long way."
2015-16 Record: 19-11
Head Coach Keith Arrington
On how to build off last year's 19-win season: "We are going to be a little bit bigger, still not huge. Overall our size is a little bit better. Kids are working hard, lifting, shooting and working on their overall skill level. We're just going to continue to grind it and work every day. It's just what we do."
On the team's style of play: "We are still a perimeter team but we are going to get it to the basket a little more than we have in the past. That size is going to help us a little bit more. We are going to share the ball and be an unselfish team. I don't think we depend on one guy to help us score. We don't have that one guy that has to get 20 for us to win."
2015-16 Record: 20-9
Head Coach Greg Phillips
On whether or not the team's defense has improved enough from last year: "Yes and no.
with these three [Durham, Cooks, Estime] they know what we are trying to do defensively, but like they both said we got to get our younger kids to buy into it. It's those younger kids that will really determine how far we go. Because I know what I'm going to get out of these three, it's the younger kids, if they can buy into it, will take us a lot farther.
On the strength of the team: "Guard play and I've got to get out of their way. Some years you have to coach a little bit more and some years you need to just get out of their way and let them do them. I'll be a little more hands-on with the younger guys, letting them understand the role these three are going to play."
2015-16 Record: 17-9
Head Coach Daniel Bowles
On how to build off last year's 17-win season: "You got to realize why we won and not just expect it. Just know that we won because we worked hard and bought into having a chip on our shoulder."
2015-16 Record: 13-14
Head Coach Branden Mayweather
On the upcoming season: "We are trying to build off last year getting into the state tournament. We've got some good pieces. Jalen Hillery is a heck of a player. He's got to be ready night in and night out because everyone is going to be gunning for him. We definitely have a chance to be good, we really do."
2015-16 Record: 26-4
Head Coach Jesse McMillan
On how to win their first state title since 2013: "I think the biggest answer to that question will be sitting at this table right here. I know that that's a goal they've [Hammonds, Thomas, Goldwire] had. All three of these guys have been with us for at least three years now and that's something that they are reminded of every day. We have a sign in our locker room that says "Our expectations are not diminished" and it's a picture of a state championship trophy. So we're not going to shy away from that. We know it's a big challenge this year but these are guys that have been working three and four years now for their senior year. I believe in them and I think we will be able to put them in a position to get some goals done."
2015-16 Record: 10-16
Head Coach Nick Gast
On how to transition from a team with potential to becoming a contender: "That's the question for us right now. I think what we did this summer and this fall, we've been really working at it and we've had some success, which is good but none of that matters until the season starts. That's the big thing we've been talking about all year. Can we turn the potential and some of the hype maybe into actual wins on the court and success."
On the strength of the team:"Our biggest strength this year is going to be our depth. We've got 10 to 11 guys in our rotation that I expect to give good minutes this year. I'm hoping that we will be able to continue to throw waves at other teams as one group gets tired the next goes in. I also think we are going to be a very good shooting team this year."
2015-16 Record: 10-17
Assistant Coach Nate Hamilton
On the strength of the team: "Guard play and effort. Technique and discipline. We don't have five-stars like some of these other guys but we have some heart."
2015-16 Record: 22-8
Head Coach Geoffrey Pierce
On replacing Alphonso Willis and Austin Dukes: "Collectively. Everybody that's playing the year is going to be serving a new role. Everyone is going to have to come together and support each other because that was four years apiece of varsity experience. You're not going to replace two players like that overnight with single individuals."
On playing in a difficult region: "You just have to focus on each game as they come. Before and after each game I tell them don't get too high, don't get too low. Don't let one win or loss
your season because it's a 25-game regular season. If you get too high beating someone in November and December then you come out and mess around after the break and go on a
losing streak. You just have to go out and be even-keel."
2015-16 Record: 5-20
Head Coach Ty Anderson
On how to bring South Gwinnett back to statewide prominence: "I think it depends on the kids that we got. I can tell you this, we want to win a state championship. We start every year wanting to win a state championship. I don't care if it's my first year, fifth year or 50th year, the year we start not trying to win a state championship, they need to fire me. I know we got the guys that want to compete and get better. We've got the pieces. I'm excited, I think we have a special year in store for us."
2015-16 Record: 19-7
Head Coach Dr. Russell Triaga
On the strength the team: "I actually think we will be more balanced this year than we have in the past in a sense that we have a couple of guys, ones a sophomore, the other is a junior who we think can score some around the basket. But these guys [Bethea, Goodson, Bishop] are different kinds of guards that they can get to the rim, they can play in the mid-range, it's not like we are spreading out on the three-point line and seeing how many three-point shots we can take."
On the upcoming season: "I'm excited. I'm looking forward to the group. I say it to everybody who comes through here that team chemistry and these nine guys have the best - and I'm not saying that in a derogatory term
guys who just graduated - it's some of the best team chemistry and unity I've been able to coach in the last 10-12 years....It's my fifth year here. If we find a way to get to 23 wins, that's 100 wins in my five years. Not a lot of Gwinnett County schools have won 100 games in five years."
2015-16 Record: 9-17
Head Coach Jeremy Huckaby
On their style of play: "We are going to be up and down. We're going to have to be up and down and we're going to have to be better than we were last year defensively. Our skillset is pretty good, but can our toughness match our
. We said it a lot last year. Our toughness has to let our skillset take over."
On how to turn Lanier into more of a basketball school: "I think Adrian said it. We need to play with a chip on our shoulder. We work our butts off. We come in and have had workouts at 6 A.M. in the morning. We work out in the afternoon. We got to take that work ethic and it's got to translate to the floor and I think this is the year we do that."
2015-16 Record: 16-12
Head Coach Eddie Martin
On how to build chemistry with new pieces: "It's about accountability. You've got to define roles and we've done that through the past. You can't just do it one time and kind of forget about it. We've got to come back and do it again and again and again. I think if we define roles and everybody understands what their role is to help us be successful and we buy into that role, then everything comes together."
On how to build Buford: "It's all about a process. You can't skip steps in the process. You can't become a good defensive team until everybody knows how to guard the ball, how they have to play help-side, that type of thing. I felt like last year, with a very inexperienced team, I felt like we got off to a rough start. We had some tough
to begin with but by the end of the
we were playing pretty well. So a lot of these kids
being back helps
that process along and you add some new faces in there. We feed off what the girls have done and what football has done, volleyball has done. You've got to feed off that. You can't be jealous about that type of stuff you've got to feed off it. And to see
helps raise these guys' expectations too. These people are doing it, why can't we? We can, we've just go about the process of getting it done."
Greater Atlanta Christian
2015-16 Record: 17-11
Head Coach David Eaton
On maintaining a focus on the state playoffs while in region play: "I think the schedule. We are going to play teams like St. Pius, Buford and we are going to a tournament in Charleston where there's always some D.C. Catholic schools and
is going to be there. So I think playing teams like that are the type of teams we will really see in the state playoffs. And just the way we work out. It's not really who we play, it's about getting the most out of ourselves all the time."
2015-16 Record: 15-11
Head Coach Adam Griffin
On if there is pressure sliding over to head coach: "I think responsibility wise, it's the general ones. I don't think it's
pressure specifically when I played for Coach [Ryan] Hodges, so I've known him for 20 years. He came to me and said he was thinking about doing this [moving from head coach to assistant]. I don't feel it's
pressure packed and I'm fortunate enough to say that I have a very good group of kids, which makes that transition really easy when you feel like you don't need to change big cultural things."
2015-16 Record: 20-9
Head Coach Derrick Heberling
On expectations heading into Year 1: "We are reloading. A lot of good talent over at Hebron so we're defining roles and learning how we can contribute. It's going to be a fun year. We have a lot of young and inexperienced talent but we gained a lot of experience through the summer and through our fall league."
2015-16 Record: 7-19
Head Coach Chris Clark
On the season outlook: "We've got a lot of young kids. We've graduated four starters from last year. We're kind of inexperienced at the varsity level but we are going to work very hard. We have a lot of kids that are willing to put in that extra work. We are going to try to change up our style and play a little bit faster than a lot of teams in our region."
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