2011-12 Basketball: A.L. Brown boys preview
By Ryan Bisesi
KANNAPOLIS ó Talk to A.L. Brown coach Shelwyn Klutz and heíll give you a uniformed assesment of the Wondersí upcoming season.
Thatís not an indictment on him as a coach, but a hurdle he constantly leaps at the dawn of each year when severa of his players are still out on the gridiron as of mid-November.
ěIím still trying to figure that out,î Klutz says from the depths of Bullock Gymnasium. ěI feel like weíve got some talented players, but weíre still young.î
Other coaches marvel at how Klutz does it, not knowing what he has until a month or so later when football is finally done at Brown.
ěI saw [North Rowan] coach Andrew Mitchell and he asked me how I deal with it,î Klutz said. ěI said weíve been doing it for 15 years.î
The prospective Wonders are just that, prospective. The team is in flux as Klutz holds another cut after football ends. The Wonders get a little bit of a break with the playoffs moving up a week this year, but will still have to play catch up.
ěItís frustrating, but itís something we have to learn to deal with,î Klutz said.
Brown comes off a 14-9 season and 8-6 in the SPC, good enough to tie for fourth in the league. An eight-game win streak propelled Brown to a 9-2 start, but things leveled off after a three-game skid against Concord, Central Cabarrus and Northwest Cabarrus. The Wonders fell in the second round of the playoffs to Klutzís good friend Mike Gurley and West Rowan.
Klutz says heís never had this many juniors on a varsity team. Derrick Copeland, Braxton Waddell, Tevin Stark and Michael Carr are all juniors and potential starters.
ěA lot of those guys played a lot of minutes last year,î Klutz said. ěWeíre still looking for somebody to step up and take a leadership role. We pretty much have a junior-dominated team. Weíre trying to have balanced scoring this year from everybody, not just one or two guys.î
Brown scrimmaged stout programs Salisbury and North Rowan recently. The Wonders have been a playoff-worthy team most years under Klutz, but have had trouble sustaining postseason runs. Brown made the sectional finals in 2005. Now in his 15th year coaching, Klutz carries a 191-156 record.
ěThese guys really practice hard and I think they enjoy being around each other,î Klutz said.
Copeland is the Wondersí top returning scorer at 9.2 points per game from last year. The point guard scored a season-best 22 points in 94-80 playoff win against Marvin Ridge. Copeland is the teamís best shooter.
ěHeís a real calm player,î Klutz said. ěHe doesnít get frustrated easily and is one of the better knock-down shooters in the conference. Weíre expecting a lot of leadership from him.î
Michael Carr plays 2 guard and is a notable on-the-ball defender and an improved ballhandler.
Keeon Johnson and Damien Washington, both contributors last year, are hopeful to carry over from the football team once their season is complete.
Washington will participate in Shrine Bowl activities until the middle of December. Klutz says Washington is considering having surgery after football season is done. Johnson was a starter in the post for the majority of last season.
ěHeís a real good rebounder and can score around the basket,î Klutz said.
Waddell, a 6-foot-3 wing player, had double-digit points in three games last year. Waddell is an aggressive defender and potent rebounder.
Forward Tevin Stark provides a long frame (6-4) with athleticism that Klutz says could equal one of the most explosive players heís coached. Stark had four consecutive games with double digit scoring and averaged 8.3 points per game last season.
ěHe can be a really good player,î Klutz said. ěHeís lanky, long and very athletic. He can play the 3, 4 or the 5.î
The departed Teven Jones and his 21.6 points per game are no more. Jones, the SPC Player of the Year last year, recently signed with Virginia from Fishburne Military Academy.
ěItís hard to replace Teven but at the same time, weíve got other guys with experience that can improve,î Klutz said.
Senior J.J. Jones played at Brown his sophomore year and moved to South Iredell last year before coming back. Klutz says Jones is a high-energy player.
The SPC has been led by Concord the last couple of years. Klutz says the league is a bit more open this year.
ěAnybody can be beaten on any night in this conference this year,î Klutz said.
Klutz says his squad is prone to rev it up on the offensive end, hoping to wear other teams out.
ěWe prefer the up-tempo style,î Klutz said. ěItíd be to our advantage if we play 94 feet and speed the tempo up.î
Up from jayvees is Demarries Shepard (junior), Adrian Addison (sophomore) and Jamar Howie (junior). All three will be counted on as key reserves.
ěWeíll have to find some consistent leadership,î Klutz said. ěWeíll have to defend the ball extremely well.î