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The WC Commanders are going to be small this season.
But Head Coach Russell Burkhead has a plan to take advantage of this so-called weakness.
They’re going to outrun their opponents.
“We’re gonna be awful small this year, so we’re gonna have to play fast and play hard,” Burkhead said.
While Burkhead doesn’t like to “put a lot of expectations out there,” there is one measuring stick that he will be evaluating his team by this season: effort.
And he knows he won’t be disappointed with this squad.
“I just want the kids to give me everything they’ve got,” Burkhead said. “We’re not loaded with talent, but there are some good kids on this team who know how to work hard.”
Part of this mindset can be attributed to the leadership on the floor, with four seniors on this year’s team.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Burkhead said. “We’ve got a strong freshman and sophomore class, but this senior leadership’s gonna really help us. It’s gonna be big.”
A team effort on rebounding the basketball, one of the premier hustle stats, will be key for this team’s success, according to Burkhead.
This will be especially important for WC considering their height.
“We’ve got to rebound because we’re so small,” Burkhead said. “We’ll have to continuously hit the boards and box out better than the other teams.”
Another key will be the team’s ability to shoot an outside jumper and, in particular, finding a consistent scorer alongside senior Thomas Pettus, a player that Burkhead would “rate up there as good of a shooter as anyone in the region.”
And doing so could provide a spark to the WC offense, who will be looking to set the pace as often as possible.
“We want to get the ball down, make two or three passes and get up a shot,” Burkhead said. “That’s kind of what we’re looking at this year.
On defense, the Commanders will be employing a full-court press.
Although there could be some repercussions, Burkhead believes that the positives heavily outweigh the negatives.
“We’re gonna pick you up as soon as you take the ball out,” Burkhead said. “There’s gonna be nights when a team breaks the press and they score on us, but our goal is to wear a team down by the end.”
Regardless of the results in the win-loss column, one by-product of Burkhead’s up-and-down style will be the entertainment value of his team, something he hopes the community and student body take full advantage of.
“I just hope people come out and support this bunch,” Burkhead said. “They’re a hard-working group of kids, and they’re gonna be a lot of fun to watch. That’s for sure.”