"Lock down! Slide, Slide, Slide! Charge, take the charge! Chris, you gotta be able to lockdown, understand?"
Clearly Coach Doug Harris has one thing in mind, Desert Vista will be a defensive oriented team. This I learned after spending a day at practice (their 3rd) to see the new coach, their players and evaluate PrepAZ.com's #1 ranked Thunder.
Perhaps the most watched program in Arizona for a number of reasons. Coach Harris being #1. Can he coach? He's never been a head coach before, can he handle the pressure or players?
- It was evident after day 3 that Coach Harris is in charge. He already earned the respect of his players, and if fact in my estimation has his team playing harder in practice this year than they played in games last year. Scary thought considering the talent they have.
- His age (younger) has brought the players closer and seem to relate to him better, important when asked to do what Coach Harris is asking!
- Coach Harris teaches. Big difference considering many coaches bark. Teaching, explaining why they do certain drills. Asking the kids to dig deep and fight through the pain. A statement made many times yesterday, "No team in Arizona will be better conditioned than YOU guys!
- Harris is clearly in charge, but has the smarts to let his assistants teach and coach as well. Harris's brother Dave Harris will handle the Freshman, Ryan Tolman will coach the JV, and Ryan Williams will assist Coach Harris on varsity. All 3 assistants are on the floor teaching, pushing and coaching. But everyone in the gym knows who is the man.
- A former college coach and player, Harris runs his practice exactly like a college practice, intense, to the point, no down time and tough. No excuses for anything.
- In 3 days he has brought the team together for a common goal, State Champions.
Obviously after 3 days it is hard to see what will take place after a 4 game losing streak, but Harris and staff are setting the building blocks for a very special season.
Gabbidon & Kilby:
Kilby & Gabbidon are the best frontline in Arizona, and after watching both work out yesterday, are only getting better. Both have taken the responsibility to cheer and encourage their teammates, and realize AWA is in their hands. According to Harris, Kilby stays after practice to work on his game, and Gabbidon has worked harder than he ever has in practice. Both looked very good yesterday.
Harris indicated to me his key players and line-up heading into their opener.
PF-6'7"SR. Travis Gabbidon-Athletic and quick, Gabbidon can shoot it from 18 and take the ball strong to the hole. His agility will open up the offense and create problems for everyone. Gabbidon should be The Thunders top scorer.
Post-6'7" SR. Xavier Kilby-Powerful, quick and a shot blocker. Kilby can shoot it from 15, and elevate over people inside. The "Hi-Low" from Gabbidon to Kilby will be unstoppable.
Wing-6'6" Jr. Johnny Pinto-Good looking wing who has strength and can shoot it from 15-17 ft. range. Pinto will enable Gabbidon to float outside and take some pressure off the boards. Pinto's ability to battle inside give the Thunder an overpowering force on the glass.
2 Guard-6'4"SR. Chris Martinez-Atheltic guard who has great hops. Martinez can shoot it from 3 with deadly accuracy. Long arms and quick feet give the Thunder a dangerous pressing team. Martinez will lead the Thunder in scoring more than a few times this year.
Point Guard-6'2" SR.Chris Gray-Football will keep the floor general away for sometime, but when he returns give Coach Harris a strong athletic PG who will get people the ball in the right places. Can shoot it and also a great defender.
Guard-5'10SR. Josh Jolin. Smart, shooter will will give the Thunder a scoring threat off the bench.
Guard-5'9"JR. Dutch Perryman-Solid no mistake PG who can hit the open 3. Perryman will bring stability and smarts to the Thunder.
Guard-5-10"SR. Adam Richardson-Richardson is built like a fullback. And will bring strength and athleticism to the Thunder.
Guard-5'9" SO.Julian Irvin-Talented Soph who will get big minutes this year. Quick and a great distributor, Irvin will be asked to control the offense and lead the break.
The Thunder will be defensive oriented, and will use the press as their offense. Tremendously athletic, these guys will force TO after TO, come after you will big time athletes, and have the shooting to knock down 3 after 3. Coach Harris has already placed his mark right in the middle of the Desert Vista Thunder.
Doug Harris loves to coach and he will be successful, his players know it, his assistants know it, the parents know it. Come March, all of you will know it!
Critics beware, this is the Thunder year.
Look for another top ten breakdown later this week.