By Matthew Yoder
If the Arcadia boys basketball team plays to its strengths of speed and defense, the 2019-20 season should be a successful campaign, frustrating to their opponents on the court, and entertaining for their fans in the gym.
Assistant coach Kyle Williams sums up the strategy in blunt terms. “We’re trying to create chaos.”
This team is built on speed. There is no denying that. What players lack in height, they more than make up for in pure athleticism. The challenge for third year coach Rodney Armstrong is execution. He is attempting to end the skid of consecutive losing seasons. Zone defenses have stymied this team in the past and Armstrong wants his team to control the tempo throughout the game.
“We’re trying to keep the pace up, we have to execute versus the zone, and we play a lot better when we are fast,” said Armstrong.
Arcadia enters the season with a deep squad, returning four starters and eight seniors. That, in itself, should make them a favorite to compete for a championship, according to Williams.
“We should be the deepest and definitely one of the most experienced teams, when you have a senior class you are supposed to dominate,” Williams said.
Armstrong believes their progress to get to that point will depend on how they work together on the court. He takes his role as facilitator very seriously. He looks at in terms as a family, urging his players to stick together through thick and thin.
“Our job, as coaches, is to bring unity, these kids have to trust each other to get along and we’ve got to get along to win a championship,” said Armstrong.
To this point Armstrong is encouraged by his squad’s focus and teambuilding, stating that practices have been “very competitive.” With a strong group of underclassmen surging, Armstrong believes the push has motivated some seniors.
“Playing time is nothing that anyone can rely on,” Armstrong said.
The core of the team should still be the play from the senior guards, notably Lethon Williams, Kamron Downing, and William Scarborough. They will be instrumental with setting a frenetic tempo, then it breaks down to who can make shots. Scarborough and Kylen Wharton are the teams best pure shooters, Armstrong believes, and he trusts Williams to have the court presence to find the open man. Williams is not only skilled at including his teammates, but he can take over the game in a number of ways.
“Lethon is our ironman, we can utilize him in mismatches,” said Armstrong.
Look for him to break down defenders at the point, or take the ball coast to coast in transition.
“Lethon is capable of getting a rebound and running by three defenders,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong’s praise for Williams’ leadership was profound.
“He’s a special player, he knows what it takes to win,” said Armstrong.
Excitement for this season is high among coaches and players. Scrimmages have been successful and productive, as the team works through situational basketball right now. The season opens this week, and early matchups away against Northampton and Nandua will test this team’s ability to compete for a championship. Success will all boil to down to execution. Can Arcadia assert their will with high tempo play, or will they be challenged into slower, half-court situations?