CONYERS - Salem boys basketball coach Darren Wilkins was looking for some positive signs during his squad's summer workouts.
When the workouts were over, Wilkins had plenty to be pleased about.
Salem's varsity posted a 12-4 record in the summer, while the junior varsity chalked up an 11-4 mark.
"Our teams did very well this summer," Wilkins said. "Our participation rate was high for practices and summer games. Overall, I was pleased with the work ethic and attitude of the participants."
Last season, the Seminoles finished with a 5-21 record and lost to Loganville in the Region 8-AAAA tournament play-in game. Salem lost its final 12 games of the season.
Some of the main reasons for the Seminoles' woes were inconsistent play and an inability to finish off games.
"Our main point of emphasis was playing consistently the entire game and finishing games," Wilkins said. "Our varsity was competitive in most of our regular season games last year but would have five- to six-minute stretches that we got away from our game plan. In the regular season, those stretches really hurt, so we emphasized consistency and composure in the closing minutes of games.
"I saw a lot of improvement. The execution was better and more consistent. Everyone worked hard, had good attitudes and bought into the things we wanted them to do."
Overall, Wilkins was pleased with improvement shown by his whole team.
"The overall team did better," he said. "I don't want to single any player out because we are the kind of team that everyone has to contribute in a positive way. When we adopt and maintain that team concept, we are so much better."
For now, the Seminoles will focus on school work and fundamentals as they wait for practice to officially begin on Oct. 26.
"We focus on school. Each player needs to improve and maintain their grades," Wilkins said. "Basketball-wise, each player can do things to continue to get better and work on their game."
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.