COVINGTON - Switching regions did not make it any easier for the Alcovy boys basketball team as it jumps from Region 8-AAAA to Region 4-AAAA this season.
Last season in 4-AAAA, Jonesboro advanced to the Elite Eight in the Class AAAA playoffs.
"The new region brings about new challenges and more fierce competition," Alcovy coach Eugene Brown said. "We are unfamiliar with our opponents with the exception of the teams that we got a chance to see or play this summer, so advanced scouting will be particularly important to help prepare our teams and game plans."
Besides Jonesboro, Brown expects to see the primary competition come from North Clayton and Griffin.
"There may be someone else that emerges. No matter. We prepare for every game with the same enthusiasm and attention to detail," Brown said.
As the Tigers prepare to start their third season, they do so with the same two goals they have had since day one - win the region and qualify for the state playoffs.
Brown feels that because his team has some experience under his system it has a greater understanding of the work and determination it takes to reach those goals.
"They have a better appreciation of what we are trying to do and how we want to go about doing it," Brown said. "We have intensified our regiment throughout the preseason and we had very little resistance from the players. As a whole, they possess a great work ethic."
The Tigers have four returning starters as well as several other players that Brown anticipates will make key contributions.
Returning for another season are starters Jamison Smith, Jordan Butts, Brad Williams and Kevin Boyle.
Other players Brown expects to make a big impact on the team are Julian Butts, Tavon Cook, Gary Wilkins, Darius Miller, Josh Smith, Jeffrie Freeman, Nick Wilson and freshman Devon Edwards.
"We play a lot of guys every night, so most of the players we have returning have a lot of varsity game experience," Brown said. "We lost some really good players, but we have seven of our top 10 players returning so we don't expect a drop off. In fact, we believe we have more quality depth, so we are looking forward to playing with a little more intensity and vigor."
Even though the Tigers have experience in their favor, the one thing they don't have is height.
While height, especially for a basketball player, is an added advantage, Brown said the Tigers will be able to offset that disadvantage using other aspects of the game.
"We are not particularly tall, but we compensate for that with physical strength and speed. We lost a lot of scoring from last year so it will be interesting to see if the guys we project to pick up the scoring will respond to the challenge," Brown said. "Our strength is our depth, shooting ability, athleticism, work ethic and cohesiveness. This team has the potential to be very good, we'll see if we can capitalize on that potential."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: Alcovy Boys Basketball
· Coach: Eugene Brown (third season)
· Last year: 11-13 overall
· First game: 2:30 p.m. today vs. North Springs at Philips Arena
· Key returning players: Jordan Butts, Kevin Boyle, Jamison Smith and Brad Williams