2011-12 Basketball: Carson boys preview
By Ronnie Gallagher
CHINA GROVE ó All the talk in the preseason of 2010 was about Carsonís Big 3 ó Nick Houston, Cody Clanton and Devon Heggins.
It turned out to be the Big 1 ó Houston ó after Clanton didnít play and Heggins dropped off the team.
Houston did all he could, scoring 37 in one game and becoming only the second Cougar in history to go over 1,000 career points. But it wasnít enough to keep Brian Perryís Cougars from going 8-15, 5-7 in the North Piedmont Conference.
ěThe expectations were a little higher than what it turned out to be,î Perry sighed.
Before this season began, Perry had lost his promising 6-foot-3 big man Rik Heggins, who moved. So heíll have to turn to his youngsters.
But thatís not a bad thing. One positive, he said, was being forced to bring up freshmen like Tre Williams, Colton Laws and Myquon Stout. They saw significant minutes down the stretch and contributed.
ěThey wouldíve never moved up,î Perry said. ěHard times forced me into a situation that will help this year.î
Williams was actually the starting point guard for the last nine games and had some good outings, his best being a 13-point outburst against West Iredell.
ěHe stepped up in a situation that was tough,î Perry admitted. ěHeís a lot better. He has a good feel for the game and usually makes the right play. Heíll be more of a ballhandler. Heíll control the team.î
Williams will have an athletic backcourt partner in 5-9 senior Donte Gilbert. Heíll play both guard positions.
ěHeís a good defender,î Perry said. ěHeís got those defensive back instincts from football.î
Perry has a talented junior class, led by returning Cougar D.J. Love, a 5-10 wing. He had a couple of double-figure games last year.
ěHeíll have to score,î Perry said. ěHeís one of the best shooters on the team. Heís turned into a pretty good defender.î
Another junior expected to improve his stats is Malachi Parker, a 6-0 guard.
ěHeís an athletic kid,î Perry said. ěHeís aggressive offensively. He finds a way to score.î
Travis Abbitt was hampered by injuries in football but the 5-9 junior is 100 percent now.
ěTravis is the most athletic kid weíve got,î Perry praised. ěHeís super fast, super quick. Heíll be a force defensively. Heís a really tough kid.î
An inside presence will come from sophomores Laws and Stout. Laws has grown into a 6-5 post man while the 6-1 Stout gives the team bulk.
Laws can create mismatches, Perry says. He may even use him at guard.
ěAgainst a smaller guy Laws can have success,î Perry said. ěBut heís better down low.î
Perry said Stout is a wide-body who handles his business down low.
ěHe rebounds well and defends well,î he said. ěHeíll be a presence.î
Rik Heggins may have left but Rameiq Howard is a good replacement. The 6-2 junior moved in from South Carolina.
ěHe has a big body and really long arms,î Perry said. ěHe has been a pleasant surprise. He has a decent touch inside and a pretty good nose for the ball. Heíll help out on the boards.î
Two seniors are 6-2 Nick Martin and 6-0 Wyatt Bigelow. This is Martinís first year but Perry likes his athleticism.
ěNickís got a high motor,î Perry said. ěHeís a gritty kid whoíll do anything you ask. Bigelowís a long, lanky kid who we want to crash the boards as hard as he can.î
Matt Broome is a junior coming off two years on jayvee.
ěHeís a pretty good shooter,î Perry said. ěHeís working on getting better defensively.î
Perry kept one freshman, 5-9 Jacob Raper, little brother of former Cougar Jared.
ěRaperís probably one of the best shooters on the team,î Perry said. ěHeíll have significant minutes for us.î
The one issue is height.
ěSize-wise, we donít have a lot of it,î Perry said. ěWeíll have to be scrappy. And weíre more athletic than weíve ever been.î
One key will be the sophomores who were brought up last year.
ěItís not like theyíre stepping into varsity basketball for the first time,î Perry said.
Donít expect finesse from the Cougars. Perry has to come up with another formula to win in the always-tough NPC.
ěWeíre not finesse at all,î he said. ěWeíre not going to be pretty. We have to be gritty rebounders and get second chances.
ěStatesville and West Rowan have got to be the top two,î Perry continued. ěThereís not a lot of answers for them.
A certainty for Carson is, Perry wonít be relying on the Big 1 this year. He needs to rely on the Big 12 and win with a team effort.