Patrick County’s boys basketball team struggled to score for a lot of last season. The Cougars’ two best shooters both graduated, so this whole offseason has been about finding ways to score more points.
For head coach Andrew Terry, that offense is going to come from tough defense and scoring in transition. The Cougars will again be one of the more undersized teams in the Piedmont District, so Terry plans on using the quickness and athleticism of his team to put opposing teams in touch matchups.
“We push the ball up the floor a lot. We’re a little quicker this year as far as the lineups we’re going to have out on the court and we’re just going to push it as quick as we can,” Terry said. “(Our defense) is going to create our offense. Getting steals, getting rebounds and pushing it up the floor before the defense can get set… If we can hone in our defense, getting stops like we’ve been doing I think we’ll get out and run a lot better.”
With Brandon Hubbard and Hunter Lawless lost to graduation, the Cougars will need players to step up and hit 3-point shots. The offense, according to Terry, will start with driving to the basket, but having that threat on the outside will open up the strength of the roster.
“We’ve got a couple of guys that we look to step up this year. Krishal (Somasundaram) and DeAndre (Reynolds) are both really good shooters so I’m really looking for them to blossom this season,” Terry said.
Reynolds emerged late last season as an outside scoring threat, attempting more 3-pointers as the season wound down. Terry said he had to get him to think more to score and entering this season he hopes that continues.
“He’s more of a drive-first guy. He looked to pass it a lot,” Terry said of Reynolds. “He knows he’s going to have to score for us. I look for him to take more shots this year.”
Along with Reynolds, the Cougars will also return senior Frankie LaComa, another drive-first point guard.
“All of our offense is going to be set up for the drive first. Move the ball and drive. It doesn’t matter if it’s man, zone, whatever. We’re going to look to attack the basket, get to the free throw line, get easy opportunities at the rim so I think we’ve got the personnel to do that,” Terry said.
A couple of x-factors for Patrick County, on both ends of the floor are seniors Darius Hagwood and Josh Cockram. Terry admitted that the team is undersized, but Hagwood and Cockram can play bigger and give Patrick County a boost down low.
“(Hagwood) is strong. He can score inside. He can take guys off the dribble from the outside. He’s quick. He can handle the ball pretty well. I think that’s going to create some matchup problems,” Terry said. “Josh Cockram is our best, athletic wise. He’s got a knack for getting in the right position on the offensive end. He gets more offensive rebounds than anybody on our team and I think that surprises a lot of teams… If I can just get him to score, or at least attempt to score, then we’ll be good. We’ve had that conversation several times. He’s a real unselfish guy… but I’ve got to have him score.”
Not only will it be a lot of driving to the basket and attacking the paint, but the Cougars also plan to be a tough-nosed team that hunts loose balls.
“We play a tough style of basketball, like driving hard to the paint, trying to snatch up every board, diving for every loose ball,” Hagwood said. “Where we don’t have our shooters like we had last year we have to rely more on getting to the basket.”
Hagwood is one of four seniors who have been together for a number of years. Include Reynolds and the other four juniors, there’s a lot of comfort when the Cougars take the court.
“We’ve just been playing with each other for a long time so we just have that bond,” Hagwood said. “We already know where the next play is going to go before it even happens.”
The Cougars felt that they ended last season with a sour taste in their mouths, feeling that they “could’ve done a little more,” according to Terry. That has brought a different level of motivation for the Cougars this offseason.
“It gives us a hunger to be better,” Hagwood said.
“I think the last two seasons it’s just been, first, developing a winning culture here, which I think we’re on the road to doing,” Terry said. “And then just taking the next step is performing in those high-performance games.”
The belief is there for a big jump in Stuart this season, but Terry said the team has to stay disciplined in all phases of the game, and getting off to a fast start wouldn’t hurt either.
“I’m looking forward to the season and seeing how we develop going forward,” Terry said. “Take care of business early and often.”