Demons open season with an uptempo first practice
As members of the Washington boys’ basketball team sprinted up and down the floor during a drill at Monday’s first practice of the season, one player exasperatedly exclaimed, “This is rough!”
The Demons made a lot of trips up and down the 94-foot court inside the new Washington High School gymnasium as head coach Bryce Smeins worked his players hard on Monday evening.
“We don’t wait around to see what kind of shape you’re in,” Smeins said this morning. “We went start to finish with full-court drills [yesterday], and for the most part they held up pretty well.”
The Demons will run a lot in practice this year. That’s because they’re going to run a lot in games.
“We want to play uptempo this year,” Smeins said. “We’ve got some pretty good athletes who like to get out and run, so we’re going to try to do that. We’ve got a lot of kids who are athletic. We try to get the uptempo mindset going.”
While Washington has a lot of athletic players this season, the squad has few returning players with varsity experience. Senior Kyle Roder is the Demons’ only returning starter from last year’s team that finished 13-9 overall and finished second in the Southeast Conference with a 5-3 record. He started the final 20 games of the season last year and averaged 7.5 points per game. Seniors Justin Hoffman and Michael Hall played in all 22 of Washington’s games last year off the bench. A handful of other players saw limited varsity playing time.
“We started four or five seniors all the time last year,” Smeins said. “Kyle Roder is really the only guy who started who’s back. It’s kind of starting over and rebuilding this year.”
But just because the Demons are starting over, that doesn’t mean they aren’t looking forward to having a successful season.
“Hopefully we can take our football momentum into basketball season and make some noise in the playoffs again,” Roder said.
“We want to win the conference and then make a run in the playoffs,” added Hoffman, who averaged 2.8 points and 2.8 rebounds a game last year.
But to be successful, the Demons have a lot of work to do. That’s why, after practicing for two hours on Monday evening, they were back in the gym at 6:30 this morning. And they’ll be back in the gym again this evening.
“It’s pretty physically demanding to go at night and then again in the morning,” Smeins said. “But we have a lot of kids who need to get some work done.”
The Demons got a lot of work done on Monday evening, and Smeins was pleased with how well his players handled the conditioning.
“We had a good workout with a lot of conditioning, and I thought a lot of the guys came in in good shape carrying over from football and cross-country,” he said. “I was surprised. I thought we were in pretty good shape. We’re off to a good start, I think.”
Washington has little time to prepare for Saturday night’s Hall of Pride scrimmage at WACO.
“It’s just around the corner,” Hoffman said.
But Smeins feels his Demons will be ready to get onto the court. Then they’ll open the regular season on Nov. 27 when they travel to Mid-Prairie.
“We’ll have enough in by Saturday to play a game,” Smeins said. “It won’t be anything fancy, but we’ll put the uniforms on and play against somebody else. It will be a good starting point against WACO to see where we’re at.”