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January 6, 2013
By Troy Derengowski of Richmond High School


Troy Derengowski

I am beginning to hear and see dissatisfaction in Richmond basketball fans over the Red Devils' 8-5 record.  I hear them grumbling over Richmond’s lack of scoring and their lack of beating good basketball teams.  Sure they can beat Northeastern, East Central, Upper Arlington and Indianapolis Tindley , but  they can’t beat , Huntington North, North Central, Zionsville and Jay County.  Why?   I am not making excuses, but fans need to realize this isn’t an explosive offensive team and they came into this season with very little varsity basketball experience.  They aren’t going to put 75 points per game per night.  Right now they are at 56 per game.  Richmond wants to play up tempo but the opposing teams aren’t playing along.

Here are some examples: East Central plays a half court, slow it down, ball control offense.  The final score was 55-43.  Upper Arlington was another slow it down, half court, ball control offense.  The final score was 43-28.  Huntington North was another example..final score: 72-60.  Columbus North, another half court team, they held Richmond to 48.  More examples include Guerin Catholic, Zionsville and Jay County.   These teams know that in order to beat Richmond, make sure the Red Devils have few possessions, control the basketball, cut down on turnovers and make sure Richmond’s zone press won’t  cause you problems.  The teams that have been able to do that have beaten the Devils. The teams that have handled Richmond’s zone trap have also beaten the Red Devils.  Believe me, Joe Luce and his staff will make the necessary adjustments.

I am also seeing dissatisfaction in the stands.  Just about every Richmond home game has been poorly attended.   For some reason, the fans are choosing to stay away from the Tiernan Center.  The Wettig tournament was poorly attended, even by the season ticket holders who could have seen every game for only $5.00.  32 games for only $5.00 and many chose to stay home.  Yes I know it was the holiday’s and many fans were out of town but when I see Tipton bring more fans to see their team than Richmond does, something is wrong.  Players feed off of the energy they get from a good crowd.  If you don’t show up they have to find another form of energy and that is hard to do in a half empty gym.

I believe this team was built up too much before the season started.  The pre-season polls had them rated, not in the top ten but in the top 25. I know we have expectations, but the polls were unrealistic!

 There was also so much talk about Joel Okafor and his visit to Michigan State and Purdue.  Maybe we thought Joel was the next coming of Dominic James before his sophomore season started. We put way too much pressure on him.  Joel also missed his friend Bola Olaniyan more than we could have imagined and still does despite Bola’s recent visit.  I noticed his mood change every time I saw him.  He smiled less, he kidded around less and he just seemed unhappy.  That has affected his play.

We put a lot of pressure on Davious Webster.  He was being touted as one of the top sophomore guards in the state.  He too was getting some attention from Division I schools and we made a big deal of it.  Davious has been inconsistent in his play this season on both ends of the floor.  Remember, Davious and Joel are both just sophomore’s.  They can’t even drive yet and we were putting them in a position they couldn’t or weren’t prepared to handle just yet. 

Freshman Reggie Jones is another example of everyone expecting too much.  Reggie was very good in middle school but this is high school.  Varsity basketball is a different animal and Reggie is finding that out.  He can’t do anything he wants like he did at Test Middle school.   He will be a very good player in time!

Remember this, everyone on this team had very little if any varsity experience coming into this season and we all should have taken that into account.   Richmond also has no interior game, no size, no bulk, no game changers on defense like they did last season.  I like both Abdul Shabazz and Jai Wright but neither of them weigh more than 175 pounds and both are around 6-2.  Bigger teams have exploited the Red Devils inside like I haven’t seen in years.  Jay County was a prime example of that!

Will Richmond get better?  Yes!   But only if we will continue to support them by coming to the games and making the Tiernan Center a true home court advantage.   The students need to be there as well.

Be patient with this group.  Let them grow as the second half of the season begins at Muncie Friday.  Don’t expect too much from them yet.  This isn’t last years’ team and they haven’t established an identity yet.   We all may be a little frustrated but I believe they will be a good basketball team by the time the sectional tournament rolls around.  They have nine games to prove me wrong.

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