The Eastside boys basketball team lost a tough game to Jonesboro on Tuesday, 71-56. The Eagles sit at 14-5 on the season including an impressive 8-3 mark in Region 4-AAAA. Despite having the third-best record in the region, the Eagles have lost three of their last four games and are in danger of getting pushed further down the region tournament seeding ladder if they don’t win some key rematches against Eagle’s Landing and most importantly Walnut Grove. The Eagles trailed by nine at halftime against Jonesboro, but were outscored 18-2 in the third quarter. Head coach Brent Wren says the third period was a huge difference and that Jonesboro showed why they’re a championship team, adding that his team got some solid looks, but he thought they could’ve gotten better looks. Wren got on the phone to speak with us about some of Eastside’s problems on offense, why Isaiah Miller is so good and how far the Eagles can go.
The Covington News: As a team you all shot, 9-33 from deep including a 1-10 mark from Joshua Cammon against Jonesboro on Tuesday. You guys have been a team that can kill it from deep. Taking threes is fine, but it seemed like some of the threes you’ve taken in your losses weren’t in the flow of the offense. What do you need to do as a coach to get better looks for your team within the flow of the offense?
Brent Wren: They have to execute better on offense. Like I said, we have a young group of guys, we have kind of a new system so to speak, kind of a little bit more freedom to execute some things and we’re just not getting that execution. So what ends up happening is, even in that game, they got wide open looks, they got the looks we wanted, they just weren’t falling down. Some of it came out of just stagnation on offense. There’s a lot of uncertainty because a lot of the things we’re asking them to do is to read what a defense is doing and then make those adjustments and that’s new for a bunch of them. There’s some growing pains. It just showed up in that [third] quarter really, really badly. It’s a matter of allowing them to play through it. We sit down, we look at film, we go over it, explain situations, it’s just something you gotta grow from.
CN: Cammon, specifically was 1-10 and while he can shoot the three, he’s obviously had better games, but it seems his best attribute is his ability to get to the basket. He doesn’t seem to be attacking the rim lately as much as he was in the beginning of the season. Do you think he’s settling and what do you need to do to get him back in that mode of attacking the rim more?
Wren: That’s exactly it, he’s settling. One of the things on offense, he’s spent a lot of time working on his shooting and to his credit it’s been well, but when the shot is not falling you gotta do other things and that’s the thing he’s getting away from. We try to put in sets for him to get the ball on the block and on the baseline and sometimes, like I said with the execution we don’t run it through that part and that’s part of the dilemma that we’re running into. Again, they’re learning a new system, they’re learning a lot of new things and how those things interact to fit them. That’s a lot of what it is.
CN: You guys had a big win over Henry County, which was huge for the team, and you have the third best record overall in the region, but you’ve lost two games on your side of the region. What’s your message going forward to your team as far as seeding goes for the region tournament?
Wren: Every game is important at this point. Every game is important. One of the things that we look at, our side of the region is loaded. We have a lot of senior leadership on this side when you talk about your Eagle’s Landing and your Walnut Grove and so forth. There’s some solid basketball play on this side of the region so they know that they have to come in every game and execute. They have to come in every game focused, they have to come in with an expectation to win and I think that’s one of the things they’ve kind of gotten away from. A couple of the losses we kind of got away from our brand of basketball and shots not falling and you go through slumps, but then as a team you gotta pull together to be able to fight through those things. That’s one of the trademarks, we’re a young team, and so that’s one of the things we run into.
CN: As his coach I know you think Miller is probably the best in the county, as you should. But what I want to ask is why? If you could make a case as to why he’s the best, what would it be?
Wren: Probably his effectiveness at getting shots that he wants. I think that's his biggest attribute at this point in his game he’s able to get where he needs to to get shots. He shoots a high percentage in terms of his two-game and the mid-range game he’s beginning to pick those things up. He doesn’t shoot well from the three-point line, but in order to keep teams honest he has to get better at that. He has to shoot it in order to get teams to come up and play him closer where he can get by ‘em. His ability to take good shots most of the time, make good offensive decisions, it’s probably his biggest attribute for us.
CN: How far can this team go if and when you put it all together?
Wren: Like I said in the beginning of the season, it’s as far as our potential can take us, and that’s really the bottom line to it because at the end of the day the onus is on them. Like I said, they’re a young team with a new system and it’s how far they’re willing to take it, really. Even the games that we’ve lost, when we go back and we go through footage, the losses didn’t really come from a team really just beating us. We have a lot of mistakes that we need to correct, a lot of basketball IQ things that we need to fix so to speak. We have a lot of potential and that potential is something that they have to work through to reach whatever goal it is that they have set for them or we have set for them.