Brady Looks Ahead

What is next for John Brady and the Arkansas State Red Wolves basketball program?

Brady, who is 110-109 in 7 seasons in Jonesboro, believes better days are ahead. And after an 11-18 disaster the coach expects things to get better.

“There are seven games we had and should have won,’’ said Brady. “You win those and we are 18-11 and have everyone back and we are all feeling good.”

But that did not happen for the Red Wolves, who struggled to a 6-14 league mark. It was a team that won more games on the road (6) than it did at home (5).

“I don’t know a definitive answer,’’ said Brady. “Everybody wants to know this or that. One thing we didn’t shoot it very well and we didn’t defend very well. Our shooting percentages were around 40 percent and that is not good enough and we just didn’t defend. It was the worst defensive team that I have put on the floor. Those are things we have got to correct.

“I think our players are good enough. We are going to add a couple next year that will make it better and I think our team will be better because of what they went through and what the experienced. You know 10 new players may have been more difficult than I anticipated. We didn’t fit our roles as we should have from time to time.

“It seemed like every time we’d about … we’d take two steps forward then we would take a step or two backward. We could never do it consistently. If you can go on the road and beat Mississippi State by 16, not a great SEC team but did win some games this year, that says something. You go on the road and win 3 or 4 more. You can beat Monroe, who was leading the league at the time and you beat Texas-Arlington, who was fourth in the league. Those are good wins for us so we are capable. So we can build on that. We can play together better.”

The Red Wolves were one of three Sun Belt teams that did not make the tourney. They were in the race for the final spot until an injury to late-emerging guard Fred Dure caused him to miss the final two games.

“I think a couple of players we are adding who sat out this year will help us from an offensive standpoint. But this team overall has got to defend better, be committed to defending and rebound the ball better. Those are the two things that need to be the cornerstone of this team next year. And that is what we are going to concentrate on in the offseason.”

Freshman guard Connor Kern missed the season with a torn ACL in preseason drills and Devin Cater is a 6-5 guard/forward who transferred from Kent State.

“I never thought we were a great defensive team. And I never thought that we were a great team that could develop into a team that could execute when we needed too. We still at the end of the year, the last two weeks of the season, I was still coaching some of the same things that we were teaching in November. We never really progressed as we should have. I think those are things that are going to help us going into the offseason and going into next season. We know what we didn’t do.

“In terms of defending or execution, our consistency of play, and playing together. And I think our players, and certainly myself, we are going to make a commitment to working on those things that we noticed we didn’t do and try to rectify them. I still think that our players, we have good players and I think a couple of players that we are adding going to make us better from a talent standpoint. We’ve just got to be more consistent in what we do and how we do it.”

Historically, junior college players have a lot of improvement from their first year to second season.

“I think it is like going from your freshmen year to your sophomore year. I think it is going to be that way with the players that we have, particularly with Anthony Livingston. He will be better or what he has gone through. He has a chance to be player of the year in the league. He is a legitimate first team all-league player.

“I think our other players will be better for what we have gone through. But I anticipate all of them getting better in some way; I anticipate our offseason being very focused with the desire to get better because I think our players are not happy with what we did. I know they are not and they want to do everything they can to rectify that and I think it is going to start in the weight room and start with developing some toughness about us and being a team that is more committed to defending and rebounding.”

Carter is a true small forward who drives and has a mid-range jumper.

Devin Carter who has been sitting out for this year is going to be good for us. He’s a high-energy guy, good defender, left-handed, tough. I think he is going to help us. And I think the emergence of Fred Dure from what people saw the last couple of games. Prior to getting hurt, which was really a bad luck thing, we possible could have beaten South Alabama at home and gone (to the conference tourney) had he not been hurt the last the last two games. That was a freak thing.”

The Red Wolves could add up to two players in the spring signing period. A point guard who is a top priority and possibly an inside player who Brady said “wants to rebound, defend and make layups.”