Big men means big plans, better balance for Gators

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Having big men again has Vicksburg High coach Dellie Robinson thinking big.

“If we play to our potential, we’ll definitely be in the (division) championship game,” said Robinson, who led the Gators to a 20-win season and its first division title in four years last season.

That team was built around 5-foot-9 guard Herman Griffin, who graduated.

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This season, with 6-6 Dewayne Jackson and 6-4 Patrick Igbokwe battling for the starting spot, Robinson has a couple of centers to choose from.

And that makes Robinson happy, considering he hasn’t had a true center since Quentin Smith graduated in 1996.

“Going down to the paint that’s the game I believe in,” Robinson, an ex-Alcorn State power forward, said with a smile.

Having two competing for the job will just make the team better, he said.

“It’s healthy to have that competition on the team,” Robinson said. “It means everyone has to work harder. Nobody can really count on their position.”

Robinson plans to rotate the two based on need and even play them together at times. Igbokwe will get the nod when the team need rebounds and defense. Jackson will be called on when the team needs points.

“Patrick has developed a jump-hook and Dewayne has a little turnaround now … that make them effective down low,” Robinson said.

The Gators also have 6-4 forward Demetrick Allen, a returning All-County performer, to complement the centers in the post.

Vicksburg also has scoring threats in small forward Gerrick Durrell and guards Miguel Henyard and Justin Henry. Durrell, who missed last season because of a dispute, turned college scouts’ heads at a showcase in Jackson over the summer.

Point guard Jason Walker is looking forward to having so many options when it comes to distributing the ball on offense.

“I can dish it inside or outside,” said Walker, a 5-7 sparkplug who is getting attention from some SWAC colleges. “I like to get an assist more than I like to score.”

Robinson said Walker is “one of the best point guards in the state.”

He said Walker’s decision-making looks better this year.

“He’s more mature with the ball,” Robinson said. “He took too many chances last year.”

Willie Powers, Henry and Chris Humes will be some of the top reserves.

“Our bench is one of our strong points this year,” Robinson said. “We have more balance. We don’t have anyone to key on.”

That was evident when the Gators went 7-3, with two overtime losses, at Mississippi State’s team camp over the summer. They were without Walker, Henyard and Durrell.

Devin Jones will back up Walker at the point and Henyard, who Robinson calls the best shooter on the team, can rotate over if needed.

Winning the division title and coming within six points of making the North State tournament last season raises the bar for this team, Walker said.

“If we play smart and take good shots,” he said, “I think we can take another step.”