Bearcats focus on defense and tempo under new coach

Published 5:12 pm Friday, November 4, 2016

The Bainbridge High School boys’ basketball team has a very simple plan for this season-run. From summer workouts to daily practice sessions, everything the Bearcats do is up-tempo.

“Our offseason program conditioning program, we’re up-tempo in the weight room, we’re up-tempo in conditioning,” first year head coach Terry Smith said. “It’s carrying over onto the basketball court. Our practices, the only time we get a water break is while we’re shooting free throws. So there’s no down time. Everything is up-tempo.”

Email newsletter signup

Instituting the new up-tempo offense is only one of the culture changes that Smith has brought with him from Peach County after replacing retired head coach Rickey McCullough. Smith has also brought a renewed focus on defense and is working to change it from the Bearcats’ biggest weakness into their biggest strength.

“We’ve got to try to be the best defensive team in the region,” Smith said. “When I first got down here, everybody was saying that they don’t want to play any defense. They just want to shoot the three. If you come watch us practice, we practice two and half hours, and we spend the majority of that time on defense. I’m trying to change that culture.”

The Bearcats will feature a young roster in 2016, following the graduation of major contributors Trevon Shaw, Myles Thomas and Tyree Crump.

“I tell them every day; we’re not going to outscore people,” Smith said. “We don’t have a Tyree Crump that can give us 35 or 55 points on any given night. So we’ve got to defend. We’ve got to be fundamentally sound.”

They will have to overcome one major weakness in the makeup of their roster- size. Shaw, Thomas and Crump were all 6-foot-3 and taller, but the Bearcats have no one that size currently on the team. Smith is hoping that by focusing on tempo and defense that they can overcome their lack of size.

Seniors Maleke Lurry, Milton Gayle and Jeremy Freeman are expected to take the next step and become major contributors for the Bearcats.

“Those guys got a little playing time last year,” Smith said. “They’ve played together since they were 5-6 years old. So that cohesiveness with them, that’s going to make a big difference.”

Four sophomores are also expected to dress for varsity and provide valuable contributions off the bench. One of them, Bryce Jones, has already solidified his role after only two days of practice.

“Bryce is probably the best defensive player on our team, by far,” Smith said. “If we ever get in trouble where we’ve got an opponent that we’re playing and he’s just killing us, we can’t find nobody to stop him; you’ll see Bryce Jones come off the bench in a hurry.”

Junior Brandon Davis is also expected to make a major contribution after spending last season mostly on junior varsity.

“He’s really matured from the summer,” Smith said. “He’s probably put on 8-10 pounds since this summer. He probably has the quickest first step of anyone on this team. He can handle it. He can shoot it. He can jump.”

The Bearcats open the season Tuesday, Nov. 22, against Monroe in Albany.

About Brandon O'Connor


email author More by Brandon