Sabercats Not Satisfied with Top RankingJan 14, 2020
As the Southmoore boys basketball team heads into the meat of their January schedule, head coach Tim Stogsdill says this is a balanced team, both in talent and mindset.
“What’s great about this group is that they genuinely don’t care who gets the credit,” said Stogsdill. “Anyone of them could go off for 25 points on any given night, but they’re not worried about that.”
Stogsdill says a recent game with perennial state power Edmond Memorial is an excellent example of how the team adapts to their opponents.
“When we beat Edmond Memorial, we had four different guys in double figures,” said Stogsdill. “They’re great about sharing the ball and not worrying about how ends up with the points.”
The Southmoore boys surprised a lot of folks by advancing to the semifinals of last year’s 6A state basketball tournament. The Sabercats blasted Putnam City 64-49 before falling to eventual state champion Tulsa Washington in a heart-breaker, 61-59.
Stogsdill says this year’s team won’t surprise anybody. That also means their expectations are for a return to the big dance.
“There’s a whole lot of basketball yet to be played,” said Stogsdill, “But these guys have had the experience of getting to state, and they know what it takes to get there. I think they’re taking that experience and building on it.”
One other note about the team that was a first for Stogsdill last year. It was the youngest team he’d ever taken to the state tourney.
“This is the first group of guys I’ve had in 30-something years of coaching where I’ve had underclassmen get to state,” said Stogsdill.
This year’s team is senior-laden and well-balanced, with plenty of height and speed. 6’8” Wofford University Sam Godwin gets a lot of attention. Still, Steven Jackson and Darrin Ryan are two more seniors who bring a lot of experience and talent to the Sabercat cagers.
Both Jackson and Ryan say they’ve devoted the off-season and early 2019-2020 season to becoming the kind of players who can help Southmoore bring home their first state title.
Jackson said, “I think the thing I’ve been most focused on is how to be coachable and always play at 100%.”
“I’ve been working on just being a much better version of the player I was last year,” said Ryan, “That’s both on and off the court, and I feel like I’ve really improved.”
Ryan and Jackson say there’s a unique bond that holds this team together, to the point where their chosen way of relaxing is not the typical Netflix binge or Fortnite video game marathon.
“We actually like to go watch other 6A teams,” said Ryan. “Teams that we play and even teams we don’t play, so we can understand how they play their game and talk about them.”
Stogsdill says you can see the balance of intensity and friendship in the way the players handle their practices.
“There are times when they’ll really go hard in practice and get after each other,” said Stogsdill. “But when practice is over, they go right back to being the best of friends.”
“We’re just really open with each other,” said Jackson. “We’re always willing to talk about what we did well and what we didn’t do well without getting mad at each other.”
Stogsdill says that kind of closeness and attitude is going to come in handy as the long season wears on because the Sabercats have a lot of work to do to live up to their expectations.
“One of the things we need to do is adjust to the way the game’s being called,” said Stogsdill. “Against Memorial, the refs were really letting us play, but against Deer Creek, they called it a lot closer, and it’s can be tricky to make that kind of adjustment.”
Jackson says the Sabercats are doing everything they can to learn how to make those kinds of adjustments.
“Everybody’s on the same page right now,” said Jackson. “We know what we’re capable of doing, so we just have to push ourselves out of the comfort zone to get better.”
Ryan said, “I think the chemistry we have and the fact that we all understand our roles helps so much. We’re willing to play those roles and not worry much about who gets the credit.”
Stogsdill says the early part of the season is challenging as the team looks to improve on defense and become more consistent shooting the ball. He says the Sabercats also have to embrace the idea that they have become a target.
“Nobody is going to take us lightly this year,” said Stogsdill. “We have to understand that we’ve got that bullseye on our backs, and we’re gonna get everybody’s best shot every night. We can’t take a night off.”