Titans look forward to first basketball season | PostIndependent.com

Titans look forward to first basketball season

Post Independent/Kelley Cox

They’ve got a veteran coach. They’ve been practicing since summer. They’ve been lifting weights all fall.

The Coal Ridge Titans boy’s basketball team has done everything possible to prepare for the 2005-06 season. And they should ” it’s their first one.

“It is a lot of fun,” Robbie Higgins said of being part of the team’s first season. “Everything is going real good, and we have already improved since we first started.”

Starting on Dec. 1, with a lineup consisting of only freshmen and sophomores, the Titans will take on a varsity schedule, with conference matches against other Class 2A District 5 teams like Hayden and Meeker. They will also see their fair share of Class 3A junior varsity teams to help prepare them when they jump to 3A in the 2006-07 season.

Although they may be smaller and younger than their opponents, Titans head coach Mike Cox believes they have a good chance at success.

“We are very, very quick. We have some really good shooters. We play defense with intensity, our strength is our defense,” he said. “The offense will come. We are in great condition. We trained all summer and all fall to be in great condition.”

For Cox, who has coached in the New Castle area for 15 years and was an assistant for the Rifle High School girls team, there isn’t any place he would rather be coaching.

“I have been wanting this job for 15 years,” Cox said. ” It has been a dream of mine and everyone else’s around here to have a high school here.”

Cox has kept his players busy in their first offseason, and thinks they are ready to play.

“We have played a lot this summer and then this fall we have been in the weight room and at open gyms and we are just dying to play a game,” Cox said.

Coal Ridge held tryouts last week, and 22 players showed up.

Nineteen players finished out the week and will make up the varsity and junior varsity roster.

The varsity roster is pretty evenly split, with six freshmen and four sophomores. That could be expected at a school with only freshmen and sophomores enrolled, but there was something that surprised Cox at tryouts.

“I had two kids, both freshmen, one at 6-2 (David Anderson) and one at 5-9 (Alex Klein) that hadn’t come over the summer or fall and looked really good,” Cox said. “I think they could really help our JV team, maybe even start.”

Coal Ridge begins its season Dec. 1-3 at the JV Brenda Patch Tournament in Carbondale, hoping that facing JV teams will ease them into their varsity schedule.

“We start with three JV games right off the bat, and I don’t know if we will get off to a winning start or not, but to start with varsity teams ” that would be tough,” Cox said.

One of the biggest obstacles the Titans face is being undersized. Higgins is the team’s tallest player at 6-3, but the players think they can overcome not being as big as everyone else.

“We are young and small, but we can use our speed,” said freshman guard Kevin Screen. “We just can’t be intimidated.”

Fellow freshman guard Tyler Williams agrees.

“We just have to take it to the hole and hope to get fouled a lot,” Williams said.

Knowing that the Titans will face some tough teams and may not always come out on top, Cox said that his biggest challenge will be “keeping these guys on the right path, maturity wise.”

“If we lose, I have to see how we respond to that the next day, and I have to think about how I am going to respond to it,” Cox said. “I can’t show disappointment.”

Playing games this summer and working hard to prepare, Cox thinks his team will be competitive.

“We have seen our disappointment, we have been beat up, and we have paid our dues,” Cox said. “I think we are going to surprise some people.”

Off the court, Cox has put academics as a high priority ” it is even his biggest goal of the season.

“Our goal is for everyone in the program to get a 3.0,” Cox said. “When we have late practices, everyone is in study hall for two hours.”

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