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2012-13 Prep Basketball: Salisbury girls preview

By Ronnie Gallagher
rgallagher@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Doug Faison had retired to North Carolina after a long, storied coaching career in Virginia in 1999 and decided to take in a game at Salisbury. Then-principal Windsor Eagle, who had coached against Faison in Virginia (“We used to beat up on him,” chuckled Faison), noticed his former foe in the bleachers and it made for quite a reunion.
Faison was quickly enlisted as an assistant coach for a young Jennifer Shoaf. By 2003, with his help teaching defense, the Hornets had broken a seven-year streak of losing records.
In 2004, he was hugging Shoaf after a state championship.
“We set a goal for defense,” Faison said. “We led the state in giving up just (33 points) per game.”
Faison left for other coaching jobs, the latest with Brooke Misenheimer at Carson. After helping the Cougars to the best record in school history last season (23-4), Faison is back at Salisbury, replacing Chris McNeil.
After winning a state title in McNeil’s first season, Salisbury lost three games (26-3), as North Surry interrupting a nine-year streak of making the Western Regionals.
Before he retired at the end of last year, Eagle asked Faison to step in. The 72-year-old Faison agreed.
“I’ve been doing this for 45 years,” Faison noted. “This isn’t my first rodeo. There’s no pressure on me.”
What he’d like to do is relieve some of the pressure on star junior Brielle Blaire, who was counted on to do just about everything last season on a team full of first-year varsity players.
“We had a meeting,” Faison said. “She told me she was a little frustrated and they wore her out.”
Blaire wore out the Hornets’ opponents. The county player of the year averaged 22.3 points, scoring 33 points in the Moir Christmas Classic championship game win over Carson, the team’s ninth straight title. Seven games later, she exploded for 36 against Thomasville.
“We’re the same,” Faison said. “She wants to be a leader and she doesn’t like to lose. This year, we’ll surround her with help so she can get a break every now and then.”
Faison will work with Blaire at the power forward slot along side Nyasia Harris, the center.
“She has improved,” Faison said of Blaire. “She’s stronger and a little bigger.”
Faison also likes Blaire’s sophomore sister Ashley, whom he has installed as the team’s point guard, replacing the graduated Doreen Richardson. She averaged 5.7 points last season.
“She’s a hustler and a good leader,” Faison said. “She reminds me of Shayla (Fields), She gives 100 percent all the time and she’ll be our quarterback.”
Senior Patreece Lattimore is the team’s No. 1 defender, according to Faison.
“I’m already impressed with her,” he said. “She’ll start. She doesn’t worry about scoring, which I love.”
Harris shouldn’t worry about scoring, either. Faison wants post defense and rebounding.
“We went to a jamboree at Hopewell and she did a great job on the boards,” he said.
Vashti Usry is the second-leading returning scorer (6.7) behind Blaire. She can play either guard position and can spell Blaire at the point.
“She’s a good kid and she’ll play a lot,” Faison said. “She’s a hustler, she’s quick and she plays good defense.”
Faison will count on Bryanna Caldwell as well. The 5-9 sophomore will play the 3 or 4.
Faison pointed to Daterria Connor, a 2-guard, Monifa Angle, a small forward, Danielle Harmon, a power forward, and center Cheyenne Gloster, as key figures.
“Gloster’s a big-body girl,” Faison said. “We’ll put her on the boards and let her beat up on people.”  
Faison admits he is still learning his team.
“They’re giving me 100 percent,” Faison said. “They know me from Carson so it’s not like I’m a stranger.”
And he is preparing them for his style of play.
In fact, he told the Hornets it was his way or the highway. There would be no more jealousies or bad attitudes.
“I told them if they didn’t want to do it my way, they could go join the cheerleaders,” he said.
Faison’s way is defense and more defense. He brought in Tony Hillian, the former head coach at North Rowan, for the defense, and Tristan Rankin for offense.
“We know the score,” Faison said. “We’re trying to improve the defense. They’re buying in to the new concepts. They’re catching on. You need some scoring, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, it’s defense. And I’ve always been a defensive coach.”
When the Hornets play offense, he knows he’ll see a lot of zone.
“Anybody would be a fool to play us man-to-man,” Faison said, adding he knows defenses will be set up to stop the high-scoring Blaire. “But they’re not used to the other girls hurting them. We’ll surprise them.”
Here is Faison’s playbook: One offensive play. One defensive play.
“We’re hoping that’s all we’ll need,” Faison grinned.
If Faison sounds confident, he is.
“I’m excited so far,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent over here. If everybody stays healthy, it’s going to take a real good team to beat us.”

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