Dawson Street head coach Tory McCray has a word for in mind: Repeat.
That’s how high the expectations are for the Dawson Street Christian School boys’ basketball team as it started the transition from football to basketball last week at the Griggs Recreation Center.
A repeat would be considered lofty expectations for any team that lost six seniors to graduation and only returns two key contributors from the 2011-12 GISA Class A championship team.
But McCray is used to winning, and he said the expectations will remain the same this season, despite the loss of nearly all of the top players.
McCray makes the transition to basketball after leading the football Wildcats to the semifinals of the GISA playoffs for the first time ever. The roster on the basketball team looks much like the football roster, and many of those players are thin on experience on the hardwood.
“With the group we have now with them being so young and not a whole lot of experience, we’re going to look for improvement not by wins, but by effort and by execution and by maturity,” McCray said. “We’re going to be fine.”
McCray will be looking to two returning players to help lead this year’s squad.
Shaquille Tiggs, who also shattered the football rushing record with more than 2,000 yards this past season, will be joined by A.J. Ferrell. Tiggs is the lone senior on the team, and Ferrell is a junior.
McCray has left than a week left to prepare his team for Friday’s opener against Lafayette Christian School.
Conditioning won’t be as big of an issue as with some teams as the Wildcats are comprised mostly of football players who have been practicing and conditioning since August.
What McCray will be dealing with, however, is an inexperienced team that will need to find its identity in a hurry.
“Right now, we’re just a little bit young and a little big erratic,” McCray said last week. “With just two days of practice so far, we’ve seen kids lose their cool, because they’re competing so hard and they don’t want to lose a battle, but we have to be able to learn and improve on it every day. If we do that, then we’re going to be fine.”
Of the players on the team, McCray hasn’t made a decision on who will be starting, and perhaps most importantly, who will be handling the ball the most at the point.
Last season, standout guard Antonias Harrison was the man with the ball in his hands, and he’s left some big shoes to fill.
McCray said the person who’ll play point guard has “yet to be determined. We’re going to run a three-guard offense so all three guards are going to handle the ball and all three guards will be able to run the show.”
As far as expectations, McCray believes his team can return to the state finals and win another championship.
The Wildcats have been in the championship game the past two seasons, falling short in 2011 before winning it all last season.
“We’re expecting to compete every game, play as hard as we can,” McCray said. “Wins and losses? There will be wins and losses. Do I expect a state championship? Yes, I expect a state championship.”