Rockdale County boys varsity basketball coach Alen Williams knows he has a young team this season, but that's not stopping the Bulldogs' lead man from wanting to make noise in Region 2-AAAAAA this year.
Williams said that, while his team is young, he has seen a lot of improvement in a squad that went 17-11 a season ago and reached the first round of the state playoffs.
" I believe that we’re going to have a young group to start the season," Williams said. "We’re looking at four sophomores and a senior in our starting lineup to begin the year. Our guys have worked really hard over the summer, but for many of these guys, this season will be the first time they’ve started at the varsity level. But, I’ve seen them already overcome some challenges, and I couldn’t ask for a harder-working group.
"They’re young, they’re green and they’re not basketball-intelligent yet, but they’re going to get there," he said. "I’ve seen us grow a tremendous amount this summer. They’ve taken the leap; now I want to see them take a bound."
The Bulldogs will be led by senior center Darryl Tucker, who grabbed over six rebounds per game last season.
"Darryl is our senior leader this year," Williams said. "He’s our man in the middle. He’s going to go out every night and outwork everyone he faces. He gets after it every day. He does all the work he needs to do to get it done."
Tucker will be joined by sophomores Brian Jessie and Jalen Jordan, who will help power a high-octane offense.
"We run," Williams said. "We get up and down the floor really, really quick and push the ball. That’s the style of play we prefer.
"We can, however, slow down and run a half-court offense," he said. "A lot of teams that like to run have struggles when you slow them down. And although we want to run, eventually you are going to run into a team that can slow you down. When we get into a game like that, we’re not going to struggle; that’s not going to be the case."
Williams said that with his young club, defense and rebounding will be key to how successful his team is on the court.
"We believe in not letting teams see the same defense over and over," Williams said. "We try to get in your face, but this season a lot of teams are going to be naturally stronger than us. We want to mask that by trying to play different defenses and giving teams new looks."
The Bulldogs, who averaged 23.8 rebounds per game last season, will look for a team effort on the glass this season.
"I think we’re going to be able to rebound the ball well this year, especially by midseason," Williams said. "We rebound collectively as a group, which usually takes two or three years for teams to learn how to do. I think we’re going to be one of the better rebounding teams in the state by season’s end."
If the Bulldogs can play defense the way Williams wants them to, their head coach believes the sky is the limit. But, Williams said they will face some stiff competition in region play.
"Every year I seek to win a state championship," Williams said. "We don't try to hide it. It’s going to be tough this year, especially with the teams in our region. I think our region is going to be the toughest in the state. Newton is going to be very good. Morrow is going to excellent. Luella, in my opinion, should be the best team in the state. Druid Hills and Alcovy are also no slouches.
"From top the bottom, I feel like we have the best region, and we’re going to face some tough tests before postseason play begins," he said.
Rockdale County begins its season Tuesday, Nov. 19, at home against Stephenson.
The Bulldogs will play their first region contest on the road at Luella Dec. 3.