Stone wants solid changes in Tigers
GREEN FOREST -- The Green Forest Tigers basketball team hasn't made a playoff appearance since 1998. It only won two games last year.
First-year head coach Brandon Stone believes he can change that.
"There have been four coaches in four years," Stone noted as the main cause of the downward spiral. "There was no consistency in the program."
Though Stone enters his first year as the head coach, he does bring an element of consistency to the program, entering his ninth season overall at the school. He was an assistant for six years under Bill Niven and helped out with the girl's squad for the past three seasons. He also served as an assistant baseball coach and roamed the sidelines with the football team.
His efforts of volunteering his time in other arenas paid off this year as Stone picked up a couple of quality newcomers in juniors Treyton Anderson and Clayton Watson. With three returning starters to build on, Stone believes the addition of two big men could open doors for the Tigers.
"Treyton and Clayton are going to help a lot, especially on the defensive end of the floor," Stone said. "They are going to need some time to get going on offense, getting a feel for their shooting. But they should come around pretty quick. They are very athletic and that should help them."
And it should help relieve some pressure off the three returning starters -- senior Michael Campbell and juniors Jordyn Mullins and Dalton Coffee. Stone said he expects to get 2-25 points per outing out of the trio with the rest of the team filling in.
"(Campbell) is a guard that can play any position on the floor," Stone said. "He is very versatile and handles the ball well. Jordyn is our point guard and pushes the ball up the floor very well. And Coffee had an injury during football but has recovered and is ready to play. He is very good on the boards and shoots the ball well."
Stone said he also expects production from junior Austin Smalley, a "big, strong kid that can play inside or out." Junior Tyler Riggs will help spark the defense and senior Austin Allen is a spot-up shooter that will vie for playing time.
Stone said he wants to put the ball in his players hands ad allow them to make the right decisions.
"I think the biggest thing to bring in is a certain style," Stone said. "I like to see a more up-tempo style of play that gives the kids more freedom to make decisions. I try to get the most out of them so they play as hard as they can all the time."
Stone said he wants to return to program to the kind of success it last saw in 2008-09, Niven's last year. The Tigers advanced to state that season.
"Success would be to show improvement every game and give ourselves a chance to win," Stone said. "I don't want to put a number of wins on it. I just want them to play hard. We want to be playing into march. I don't know that we are there yet. But I think we will continue to improve as the season goes on."
Stone said the addition of seven talented sophomores to the three seniors and six juniors should provide a breeding ground for success.
"Gavin Nelson and Brandon Hogan are two sophomores that should be able to help," Stone said. "They handle the ball well. Then Evan Maggard and Caleb Lucas will also give us a boost. Caleb may be the smallest player on the floor but give him room and he can shoot it."
Stone said the basic principle of the offense is a run-and-shoot, building point production off fast-break opportunities and motion in the half court. Defensively, the Tigers will apply full and half-court pressure out of a man-to-man set.