Lady Vikes stressing defense

Published 12:33 am Saturday, November 7, 2015

When dealing with a young team in any sport, there’s nothing left for them to do but grow and mature, which is what Warren Central’s girls basketball coach Jackie Martin-Glass wants her Lady Vikes to accomplish this season.

The Lady Vikes struggled early last season, fought back to finish with a 15-14 record, but were unable to reach the Class 6A playoffs. Martin-Glass is optimistic that some small adjustments can push her team into the postseason.

With one senior, two juniors, nine sophomores and a freshman, Martin-Glass acknowledges there will be some trial-and-error at the beginning, but said she’d rather have her team peak at the end of the season than the beginning.

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The Lady Vikes are very tall and athletic, which Martin-Glass wants to take advantage of to become a better defensive team.

“I want to be a team that can pressure the ball and get after somebody, so a scrappy, hustling team,” Martin-Glass said.

Right now, the Lady Vikes are a perimeter, outside shooting team with a post player expected to see big minutes as opposed to coming off the bench. By the end of the season Martin-Glass hopes to merge the two styles of play into a dynamic all-around team.

Martin-Glass commended her players for hustling on the court.

“As a young team they hustle pretty well,” Martin-Glass said. “That’s the one thing I’m looking for them to do more than anything, hustle, block out and grow.”

Martin-Glass looks to the lone senior Lamaria Gray for leadership. Gray has battled through injuries to both of her knees and her production will be based off how she feels at the end of each game.

“When you’ve been here four years, you should be able to lead and guide kids in the right direction,” Martin-Glass said.

Warren Central’s boys’ team, meanwhile, has a lot of work to do.

After dropping the final seven games of last season, coach Bruce Robinson said he made some personnel changes and put the right people on the bus and in the seats.

Robinson wants the Vikings to play a better brand of defense as well. He wants them to play and defend harder, finish defensive plays with a rebound, and communicate better.

“We lost a lot of games right at the end,” Robinson said. “We’ve been talking about mental toughness and finishing ballgames, so those are some of the things we’ve been working on to try and get better.”

Offensively, Robinson said if the team wants to be successful, they have to communicate, execute well, learn what the team is doing and learn how to shoot the ball. He doesn’t believe in changing his offense every year, which is why he wants his players to be well-versed in the scheme and know in what spots on the court they can score.

The advantage for the Vikings is the chemistry and bond they share — a formula that will change slightly in a few weeks. A half-dozen players are still playing football and won’t get into the gym for at least another week.

“These kids that I have right here in the gym, they like each other, and that’s important. You got to have kids that like each other,” Robinson said. “We’ll continue to work on chemistry on the floor, but off the floor it’s pretty good.”

Travonta Miller and JaQuan Woods are the Vikings’ only seniors and Robinson has put a lot of responsibility on their shoulders as leaders and captains. Robinson also commended Chavis Smith for being a vocal leader.

“Those are the ones that, whatever goes wrong or right, they’re responsible for it,” Robinson said. “They know they’re responsible for whatever goes on in the locker room, or what happens on the bus.”

The Vikings head to Fayette to take on Jefferson County on Saturday and Robinson has some questions about how they’ll perform offensively.

“There’s some issues on offense that we have to take care of. I think last week in our jamboree we played fairly well on defense, but offensively we just have to get there,” Robinson said. “Going into Saturday, I’m hoping we can play a better brand of offense.”