COVINGTON — Even though the Rams started practice a week late because of the added days to the end of the school year, they are quickly starting to find out who they are as a team.
“I really like our chemistry. It’s one of the best teams I’ve seen in a while in making the extra pass,” Newton head boys basketball coach Rick Rasmussen said. “They seem to understand the importance of playing together. I don’t see any egos or attitudes so I think that will provide success in itself because that’s such as important element.”
The Rams are starting out with only one returning starter, rising sophomore Darvin Jones, and six other returners from last year’s team. Joining Jones are Josh Tukes, Jaquann Simms, Tarik Rogers, Donovan Grubb, Keondre McKibben and Jay Sherman.
One thing that this team has that Rasmussen has not had a long time is height with a pair of 6-feet, 5-inch players and one standing at 6-feet, 4-inches tall.
“Josh is 6-5. Then we have another kid who was on the jv last year and is a senior, Antonio Smith, he’s 6-5. So they’re two guys and we have another junior that’s about 6-4 that came up from the jv,” Rasmussen said. “We have more size than I’m used to.
“If we’re playing fast or sometimes it may not be on the floor, but in certain situations we can match-up with the bigger team and make it a little bit better than in the past.”
What makes this team give Rasmussen hopes of a successful campaign next season is the way they work together. They continually move the ball until someone has a good look at the basket rather than rushing a shot or waiting for a particular player to have the ball.
“We’re not worried about who takes (final shot). I think if somebody has been playing well they’ll probably go to that person. It can vary from game to game but I think they’re all capable,” Rasmussen said. “There’s some new-ness is personnel but I think they’re embracing the system well. I’m really pleased about that. Those guys are kinda new, but we need them to be kind of physical. The front line will be brand new with our only starter being Darvin. There’s a lot of expectations on those returners to play smart.”
After spending a couple of weeks on fundamentals, the Rams are heading on the road starting today at Furman where they will play three days straight. After coming back, they will play eight games in four days starting on Monday, June 16 at Monroe Area and Apalachee.
They will be back on the road Friday, June 20 for a one-day camp at Clayton State University before going to UGA the next day. Following several days light workouts at home, the team will end their summer practice schedule with a three-day camp at Mercer.
“It’s a great summer schedule,” Rasmussen said. “I’m pleased with where we are considering that we lost some time of preparation before going to Furman. When school got extended we lost a week in practice. We couldn’t do our fundamentals camp until school got out. Considering that, I like where we are.”