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Freeman demands intensity
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Eastside varsity boys head coach Gregory Freeman doesn’t work on the same schedule as most.

Many coaches who saw the Eagles’ 44 wins in the five seasons before his arrival would understand that they had their hands full in rebuilding a program, but for Freeman, that time is now.

The Eagles have won 32 games over their last two seasons, putting together a school best 16-10 record last year, but Freeman wants more.

“I expect to win,” Freeman said. “That’s what I’ve expected since I got here. The steps that we’ve made say a lot about the program, but we can’t just be happy with getting to the playoffs. We have to win.

“I want my legacy to be one where we not only turned the program around, but we became champions,” he said. “That’s my goal—to be champions.”

Freeman came close to winning a title with the Eagles last season, falling in the Region 8-AAAA final by a single point to Johnson. The third-year Eastside head coach said that has just made him, and his team, hungrier in 2013-2014.

“That loss hurt,” Freeman said. “It was disappointing. We couldn’t make free throws and it hurt us. But, we have a really good group returning this season led by senior guards Treyvon Francis and Anthony Henderson, and I’m ready to see what they can do.”

Freeman and the Eagles will begin their run to a title in 10 days, as Eastside attacks opponents with Freeman’s in-your-face style of play.

“We run,” Freeman said. “That’s what we do. We’re not real big, but we are athletic. We have a lot of kids in the 6-foot-2, 6-foot-3 range who can cover multiple positions. It really helps us on defense because we press and run multiple defenses and they can cover a lot of the court. We depend on ball pressure a lot and our guards give us that.”

The Eastside head coach said that he will rely a lot on Francis to anchor how the team operates on the court this season, but he won’t be the only one who can make plays for the Eagles.

“Treyvon has really improved this offseason,” Freeman said. “It’s started with how he works out and it’s translated on the court. He shoots the ball so much smoother than he did last year. Teams would play off of him, but if teams do that to him this season, he’s going to burn them.

“He’s always had the ability to get to the basket, and his shooting is going to facilitate that this year,” he said. “I also think that he’s one of the better defensive guards in the state. He can hold his own against anyone. He’s the best ‘unknown’ guard in the state."

Francis will be joined by fellow seniors Justin Adams, Larry Saxton, Jamal Hardge, Daniel Oduah and Henderson.

“This senor group is really a good group of kids,” Freeman said. “They have been a part of the most successful two-year stretch in Eastside history. What I’ve tried to get them to understand is that their level
of success, and what my level of success is, are different.

“I want them to match my level of success and intensity,” he said. “I’m used to playing deep in the playoffs, not one-and-done."

Freeman and the Eagles being their season Nov. 26 against Mundy’s Mill at 3 p.m. at the Walnut Grove Shootout.