NR coach knows big task is ahead

Published 5:40 pm Thursday, December 3, 2009

Nansemond River’s head boys basketball coach Ed Young isn’t hiding the differences between his Warrior team this season and the teams he’s coached during his first five years at Nansemond River.

“My motto is, we’re going to do the best we can with what we’ve got,” said Young.

“We have the most inexperienced team I’ve had in six years here,” said Young. Unfortunately for the Warriors, no Southeastern District teams are going to feel sorry for them.

Last season ended NR’s streak of seven straight seasons as regular season champions in the district. Young’s record while with the Warriors is 106-25.

No starters and five players in all return from last season’s team that went 16-7, a record that would be great for plenty of programs, but was a step back for the Warriors. NR also lost in the first round of the district tournament to miss out on the Eastern Region Tournament, something Young is not used to.

Nine players are new to the varsity team and some of those nine are brand new to basketball, JV or varsity, at the high school level.

On one hand, Young can’t coach the same way he’s been able to with talented and experienced Warrior teams of the last few seasons.

“The pace of our practices is much slower. We don’t have nearly the amount of team stuff in at this point than in past year,” said Young.

On the other hand, Young isn’t changing many of the fundamental things that have made Nansemond River basketball successful.

“By no means does this mean we have lowered our expectations, demands or standards,” said Young.

One example is Young’s annual preseason standard that all players must complete a 1-, 2-, 3- and 5-mile run during the preseason before being able to see any game time.

“I still have five or six guys who haven’t finished that,” said Young.

“We always dress everyone for the first game, but then if anyone’s not done with what we call their team commitments, they’re not going to play,” said Young. “With all that said, this team works, they listen and they want to improve.”

Normally, a rebuilding team would mean a young team. That’s not the case though as Young decided to keep a talented group of sophomores mostly together on the JV team and bring them up all at once next season.

Young brought sophomores John Joyce and Mike Copeland up to varsity as “so-called big men.” Joyce at 6-foot-3 is the tallest Warrior on the roster.

Of the returning Warriors, Morris Johnson, at 6-foot-2, will be playing at the center or power forward spot. NR does have some talent and shooting ability in the backcourt with Brian Clark, Ashton Moore, Brandon Debblay and Kerrington Harris. Moore is a junior; the other four returning players are seniors.

“It’s still exciting to be starting another season. This team could be like at Christmas and opening your gifts,” said Young.

There are three goals Young wants his team to achieve early in the season. He wants Nansemond River to be better conditioned than any opponent it’ll face. Young wants his team to have the best work ethic of any team in the district and he wants his team to have the best chemistry in the SED.

“Then we can branch out from that and be good defensively, then hopefully we can find a way to score one more point than the other team,” said Young.

“It’s very possible we’ll look bad early and still be a regional team at the end. The kids have to understand that and so do our fans,” said Young. The coach knows his school has a loyal group of supporters, but knows this season could have some trying nights.

“If there’s a year we need our fans, this is it,” said Young.