Cass High School hosted 28 teams in their first summer basketball tournament on Friday.
Aside from Cass, Woodland and Adairsville also represented Bartow in the tournament.
Like many coaches at these kinds of summer events, Cass head coach David Brock wants his players to develop chemistry now to smooth out the transition when the winter season begins.
“I’ve got five or six key guys this year, so we want to make sure that they get a feel playing together,” Brock said. “We have a really talented freshmen class. One of the more talented ones [Cass has] had in a long time and it’s really deep. I mean there are six or seven of them that can get after it, so those guys are pushing some of our sophomores and juniors for some minutes. It’s been interesting watching that unfold.”
Each school played three games on Friday and will play more today.
Coaches use the summer to evaluate the talent they have for the upcoming season.
Any player who is interested in joining the team can come work out in the summer. With the discrepancy in talent level, the coaches don’t favor minutes for any player as they try to get a fair rotation going for everyone.
One coach who will look to get his bearings down right away is first-year Adairsville High head coach Alex Disbrow.
“We are trying to work a little bit more Xs and Os, but we’re putting a new system in and being really modified because there is not a whole lot of practice time in the summer,” Disbrow said. “I’m looking forward to seeing who plays hard, who has great energy, great enthusiasm and who spreads the culture we want. I want to be competitive.”
Disbrow has already evaluated some of his talent, but he is still keeping his options open. He wants to take this time to instill his mantra into the program.
“We are not going to be outworked,” Disbrow said. “It doesn’t matter how good you are, you have to give effort. The last part of our program is unselfishness. We are not going to be an iso team.”
Another thing coaches want their players to adapt to is the offensive and defensive playbook. However, the fact that there is not a consistent flow of practices for the team means the coaches have to adjust their playbook accordingly.
“We are running our base offense,” Brock said. “We haven’t got much into the layers of it. Defensively, we’re pretty much exclusively sort of a 2-3 defense. It’s got some quirks to it, but we are going to run that all summer long.”
Similarly, Woodland head coach Colman Roberts will look to improve the little things about his team.
“Fundamentals is a huge issue,” Roberts said. “Really stress taking care of the ball.”
Another fundamental Brock and Roberts are trying to address is the defense.
Both coaches pointed out their need to get better defensively. Brock said AAU play for his players causes him some problems.
“I think just getting the intensity back,” Brock said. “A lot of those [AAU] tournaments are transition games and that’s not really how we play. It’s getting that mindset back to start on the defensive end and work from there.”
As the fundamentals are being drilled by the coaches, the players have to take this time to get adjusted to their new roles on the team.
Some players will make the switch from junior varsity to varsity, while others will have to step up due to departed seniors.
For Cass, the burden will have to fall on seniors Ashton Burley, Mark Chester and Carter Hedden.
Brock mentioned that Macland Shay has provided Cass good minutes in the summer time, and Cartersville transfer Ethan Carter provides them a defensive player.
Woodland will rely on the experience of Jaylen Ballard, Justice Carter and Dustin Ivie, who will probably be starters this coming season.
The summer tournaments allow coaches to have a feel for what their team is going to look like in the future, but it also provides them the opportunity to get the culture of the team right.
“I get frustrated a lot,” Brock said. “You are never going to be perfect in June. You gotta figure out a way to put yourself in a good position, and play some good basketball in the end of December and early January. It’s all just stepping stones to where we want to get to.”