ON THE COVER: Player to watch - Breylin SmithREAD ONLINE
Maumelle HornetsPublished October 27, 2013 at 5:00 a.m.
Coach: Michael Shook, second year as head coach at Maumelle; seventh year in coaching
Assistant coach: Wayne McGibbony
2012-13 record: 21-10
Returning starters: Coach Michael Shook said the Hornets have three returning starters: senior Kendall Donnerson, 6-4; junior Gary Burton, 6-2; and junior J.B. Minix, 5-9.
Best inside players: “Definitely Kendall Donnerson,” Shook said. “He’s a beast. He’s an incredible athlete, strong; like I say, he’s 6-4. He can jump out of the gym; his head hits the rim. He’s the only proven one. I’ve got some new guys this year — in practice, they look really good, but I don’t know what they’ll do in the game.”
Best outside players: “I’ll have to go with J.B. Minix as one of them. He’s extremely quick, handles the ball pretty well, shoots it good from the 3-point line,” Shook said. “Another outside guard I expect to do real well is senior Nick Cox — he’s about 5-10 — but he’s our energy bunny. He’ll probably start this year, and he gives the team all kinds of energy. He plays great defense, and he can shoot the ball from the 3-point line. Junior Tyshun Robinson, about 6-2, is very explosive. He’s probably the best defender on the team. Defensively, he can guard multiple positions, and he’s athletic enough to do it. He’s a slasher — can get to the basket and isn’t afraid to dunk on anybody.”
Team strengths: “Definitely athleticism and depth,” Shook said.
Team weaknesses: The coach said he won’t know the weaknesses until he sees them on the court. “We’ve got three returning starters, and I have another two guys who played a lot of minutes last year off the bench, but then other than that, between sophomores that were in junior high last year and several transfers that moved in from out of state, I don’t know yet. Last year, we were a pretty good cohesive unit, so one thing we’re really working on right now is team chemistry. I don’t know that it’s a weakness; just like I said, it’s an unknown.”
Games to watch: Shook said the Arkansas Hoops Challenge is in Maumelle in December and will include about eight games. “I’ve been told we’re playing Parkview. That’ll be a big one. The game to watch will probably be Subiaco. That’s who I expect to be the best in the conference — they’ve got all five starters back, and they beat us last year in the conference tournament championship [game].”
Toughest opponent: “Parkview will be the toughest. The Parkview one will be our chance to get our name on the map,” Shook said.
College prospects: “I think a lot of these kids could play Division II basketball. I know Kendall is a D-I football recruit. I think there are probably eight kids who could play some level of college basketball.”
How will you match/exceed/fall short of your success from last year? “We were conference co-champs — split with Pottsville — so we plan to win every game in conference so we can be the outright champ. We lost to Subiaco in the finals; obviously, we don’t plan to lose again. We were regional champs; unfortunately, we had a very, very poor showing in state.” Shook said a focus this year will be to improve and do “everything we can to get ready for state. I’ve scheduled a variety of types of opponents in nonconference to better prepare us for whatever we see when we get to the state tournament.”
In a nutshell: “We’re going to do a lot better job defensively this year. We’ve really, in the offseason this summer, spent a lot of time focusing on defense. We’re going to be a fun team to watch, with as many guys as we have, with the length they have and their ability to jump and dunk. We expect to be a fun team to watch and, hopefully, continue to improve and do better than we did last year.”