Coach says Vidalia must improve teamwork for district play

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 24, 2010

VIDALIA — If there’s one area in which the Vidalia varsity boy’s team needs to improve, it’s teamwork.

That was head coach Robert Sanders’ opinion on his team’s current makeup Thursday. The Vikings are 5-6 at this point, and Sanders said this year’s squad needs to establish its own identity, and not rely on what was accomplished last season.

“Basically, we need to work on playing more as a team, and gaining our own identity,” Sanders said. “We can’t rely on last year’s record or anything like that. We just have to play more as a team.”

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A state championship last season left this year’s Vikings team with some pretty big shoes to fill. Sanders said there are a lot of upperclassman on the team, but very few with much playing time prior to this season.

“Our players are young in terms of experience, but the majority of them are seniors,” Sanders said.

“Seven of them played last year, and it’s proven to be very difficult filling their shoes so far. The lack of teamwork shows up in things like passing, decision-making from the point guard position, and just knowing their roles in general.”

Sanders said several players are wanting to play positions they’re not needed at, instead of learning to play the role the coaches have assigned them to.

“Several think they’re better suited for one position, when they’re not,” Sanders said.

Only two players from last year’s team saw significant playing time, and are now adjusting to a full-time role, Sanders said.

“Several made contributions here and there (last season), but only two guys made major ones, Daryl Polk and Alvin Bell,” Sanders said.

“We try not to compare them to last year’s team, but every now and then I have to, just to let them know that they’re not last year’s team.”

But Sanders said he doesn’t see any complacency among the players this year despite most of them already having rings.

“They all maintain that they want to be successful,” he said. “Most of them have that drive, just getting them to play their roles is the biggest thing.”

As far as younger players who stand out, Sanders said freshman guard Michael Whitley is showing promise. Sanders said he sees Whitley as a point guard long term, but is trying to break him in at shooting guard.

“Point guard is a pressure position, and I don’t want to throw him to the wolves with him being so young,” Sanders said. “We have three senior point guards on the team, so he can kind of come along gradually.

“He’s getting the majority of his playing time at the ninth grade and junior varsity level. He’s primarily a shooting guard at that level, but when the game is on the line, he goes to point.”

With district play starting in January, Sanders said he hopes his team will be ready by then.

“We go down to Lafayette next week for the Sunkist tournament, and hopefully that will make us better for our district run we start Jan. 4,” he said.