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Rockdale boys reloaded, ready
First-year basketball coach Alvin Williams brings new attitude

CONYERS - When asked what expectations Rockdale boys basketball first-year coach Alvin Williams has of his 2008-09 squad, there are no hesitancies or reservations whatsoever.

"Yes, I have a goal. My goal is to win the state championship," he says matter-of-factly.

This kind of approach is one of the reasons why Williams, who replaces Mitchell Harris, was brought to Rockdale. Prior to his new gig, Williams coached at Conyers Middle School and North Clayton High School.

And his above mentioned assertion is not outlandish, considering the Bulldogs, who finished 13-11 last year, return to the court with plenty of athleticism and size.

"It's very exciting. We can make some plays that other people can't make," Williams said. "I believe defense is going to end up being one of our strengths, but we're not quite there yet."

Williams inherits a team with 12 players who are at least 6-feet-2 inches or taller. (sophomore center Deshaun Sunderhous is the tallest, checking in at 6-7.)

However, Rockdale's Achilles' heel could very well be its youth, which includes six sophomores.

"We look good, we're just young," Williams said, who has been coaching basketball for more than 10 years. "We're playing a lot of young players. A lot of sophomores are going to get a lot of playing time and then who knows? Before the end we may end up starting them."

Though new to the scene, Williams is already familiar with his competition in Region 8-AAAA South.

"I tell you what, Monroe Area looks really good and I know for a fact that Cedar Shoals is going to be very athletic," he said.

Rockdale's key loss from one year ago is Darius McKnight, one of the top scorers on the team. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs have five seniors who should alleviate the pressure - Marcus Herndon, Monte Brown, Julius Giles, Jonathan Gissentanner and Ryan Culbreathe.

Jason Murdock can be reached at jason.murdock@rockdalecitizen.com.

SideBar: At a glance

Rockdale Boys Basketball

Coach: Alvin Williams (first year)

Last year: 13-11 overall

First game: 7 p.m. today against Lithonia at RockdaleCounty High School

Key returning players: Cordarryle Bethley, Jonathan Gissentanner and Kevin Ware