"A lot of people ask me how I keep everyone happy," Chaney said. "I try to go opposite of that and ask how do they keep me happy?"
Chaney is serious. For example, when he won the mythical prep school title in 2005, Quantez Robertson did start the season among the 10 best players on then Laurinburg's roster (Chaney was the coach there before moving over to Patterson).
Chaney, who subscribes to the "what have you done for me lately" theory, would go onto hand out more minutes to Robertson as the season progressed (and others coasted). To make a long story short this kid who was once buried on the Laurinburg bench is entering his second season at Auburn. In his first season he was named to the SEC all-rookie team.
"I always say the first month (of the season) is the most important because that because you establish what is going to happen. We try to bring in character type of kids who we know are going to fit in. So far this year, we've got guys who are responding in the right way."
They responded the right way 10 days ago when Dominique Sutton led them to a 31-point throttling of powerful Oak Hill in the first 20 minute scrimmage of the season. Sutton, by the way, is the most talented non-underclassman on the team and he's going to play a large role for Chaney at both ends.
"In the Oak Hill game he stepped up but we need a couple of guys to consistently do it and he's one of those guys," Chaney said.
In the past, Chaney won games in the lay up line as teams were intimidated by his club's size. Not this year. Expect an even more frenetic pace, lots of substitutions and more wing oriented style. Of the 18+ guys Chaney has at his disposal only 4 are over 6-feet-8.
"I think we're not as big this year and we did that on purpose. I think we have a lot of guys who can play a couple of different positions and guys who can guard different positions. I think we're faster."
"I think both of them have improved a lot not just on the court but also off the court," Chaney said. "The good thing about their situation is that they'll be more mature and get better everyday in practice."
This team has plenty of firepower outside of Sutton. Jeremy Hazell returns as the team's best and most consistent 3-point ace. He's got Ronald Blackshear range and he's not afraid to pull the trigger. Cameron Tatum (Scout.com Top 100 2006) is the versatile scorer who blends a little of Sutton and Hazell's game to form a potent offensive weapon. He'll lead this team in scoring a lot of nights this winter.
Anjuan Wilderness, a state champion out of Georgia, may end up evolving into a sparkplug role. He's all energy, all the time. Tirrell Baines, another returner from last year, will assist with the leadership of the team.
Plus, if the big three (Sutton, Tatum, Hazell) and the youngsters aren't getting it done Chaney will go to the bullpen and call in a reliever. He's done it before and at times its inspired players.
"There are times, and you were at the game, Jordan Hill didn't play against Notre Dame Prep," Chaney said. "A month later he's starting. It's what have you done for me lately. Bobby Maze had Delaware last year and a month later he had Oklahoma and everyone else. You have to explain to these guys that you have to bring it every game.
"Two years ago when we went 40-0 we had 14 kids commit early and it didn't make a difference. If they get complacent we have good kids sitting on the bench."